Depression and Internet Usage Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2784 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Internet Usage, Depression, and Addiction

No responsible treatment of the cause and effect dynamic of depression through Internet usage would eliminate the relationship between Internet addiction and depression.

Previous research has identified the existence of addictive Internet usage and has been able to indisputably link this activity with "significant social, psychological, and occupational impairment." The studies have demonstrated that 'average' Internet use (~ 8 hours per week) has not caused any problems or significant consequences in academic, employment, or relationship problems while the inverse is true of the Internet addict (~ 38 hours per week). This behavior is termed pathological Internet use (PUI).

Current data in the addictions field has shown that psychiatric illnesses such as depression are often associated with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Further, research has shown that other addictive behaviors overlap with depression-for example, eating disorders and pathological gambling.

Although the concept of Internet addiction has gained credibility among mental health professionals both in academic and clinical realms, little research has been conducted to examine if similar underlying psychiatric illnesses may contribute to such Internet abuse.

Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess depression and compare such results to other established dual diagnostic populations. The findings of this study associate increased levels of depression with Internet addiction; further suggesting that clinical depression is significantly associated with increased levels of personal Internet use.

This study suggests that accurate assessment of depression and PIU can improve early detection, especially when one is masked by primary symptoms of the other diagnosis. It is likely that low self-esteem, poor motivation, fear of rejection, and the need for approval associated with depressives contribute to increased Internet use, as prior research indicated that the interactive capabilities available on the Internet were found to be most addictive.

Primary Communication Findings

It is plausible, therefore, that depressives are drawn to electronic communication because of the anonymous cover granted to them by talking with others through fictitious "handles," which helps them overcome real-life interpersonal difficulties. found that computer-mediated communication weakens social influence by the absence of such nonverbal behavior as talking in the head set, speaking loudly, staring, touching, and gesturing. Therefore, the disappearance of facial expression, voice inflection, and eye contact makes electronic communication less threatening, helping the depressive to overcome the initial awkwardness and intimidation in meeting and speaking with others.

This anonymous two-way talk also helps depressives feel comfortable sharing ideas with others thanks to the personal control over the level of their communication, as they have time to plan, contemplate, and edit comments before sending an electronic message.

Based on the findings, it is concluded that evaluation of suspected cases of PIU should include assessment for depression. These results, however, do not clearly indicate whether depression preceded the development of such Internet abuse or if it was a consequence.

Young showed that withdrawal from significant real-life relationships is a consequence of PIU. Therefore, the possibility exists that increased levels of social isolation subsequent to excessive time spent in front of a computer may result in increased depression rather than be a cause of such Internet overuse. Therefore, further experimentation with a more comprehensive level of analysis is necessary to examine cause and effect. Data collection should also include patients in treatment to eliminate the methodological limitations of an online survey and to improve the clinical utility of the information gathered.

Finally, although it is unclear how PIU compares to other established addictions, future research should investigate if clinical depression is an etiologic factor in the development of any addictive syndrome, be it alcohol, gambling, or the Internet.

Conclusion

To 'blame' any one vehicle for a breakdown in communication would be folly. People can communicate face-to-face and have interpretive problems; electronic communication can cause insidious misinterpretation.

The isolationism inherent in the nature of the Internet begs the use of logic when applying it to depression and the effects of depressive communication. Clearly, when something is 'new', it holds a finite fascination and tendency to absorb time and attention. For the healthy user, this obsessive addiction quickly fades and life resumes its normal rhythm, albeit with a new entity and vehicle for varied communication styles.

When the obsession and addiction to the 'new' technology does not fade, addiction becomes a real problem for the individual, the family unit, the community, and society in general. Often, addiction hides the symptoms of depression, making it very difficult to sort the issues involved; literature suggests treating the addiction to uncover the underlying depression.

As with anything in life, balance and moderation is key to multi-faceted use of the Internet as a tool to educate, entertain, open new roads to communication with people world over, and understand more about our world and ourselves.

Bibliography

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Clarke G, Reid E, Eubanks D, O'Connor E, DeBar LL, Kelleher C, Lynch F, Nunley S

Overcoming Depression on the Internet (ODIN): A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Internet Depression Skills Intervention Program Journal of Medical Internet Research 2002;4(3):e14

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Young, K.S.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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