What does your internet usage says about your mental state of mind ? find out here

Computer depression

Did you know that what you do online could show insight into you mental state of mind ?

I don’t mean the obvious like researching bomb-making-techniques or how-to-cheat-on-your-spouse-in-10-easy-steps.

Let me ask you:

  • How many times you check your emails  ?
  • Do you watch a lot of videos ?
  • Do you constantly multi-task and have multiple programs open that you flip between ?
  • Do you download games and videos and share them ?

According to Sriram Chellappan, an assistant professor of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology who conducted a study found that students who showed signs of depression tended to use the Internet differently from those who showed no symptoms of depression.

The Study:

The study recruited 216 undergraduate volunteers at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Where the student completed a questionnaire which is specifically used to measure depression levels in the general population. The survey revealed that 30% of the participants met the criteria for depressive symptoms.

Then, the university’s IT department provide the campus Internet usage data for the participants for February which simply showed how they were using the internet (not what they were doing. ie. Not who they were emailing but just the fact that they use email.

The Findings:

Participants who showed higher levels of depression in the survey also showed higher levels of Peer 2 Peer activity used for sharing files.

Participants with depressive symptoms tended to engage in very high e-mail usage. Frequent checking of e-mail may relate to high levels of anxiety, which itself correlates with depressive symptoms.

Depressive people tended to exhibit high “flow duration entropy” — which often occurs when there is frequent switching among Internet applications like e-mail, chat rooms and games. This may indicate difficulty concentrating.

Depressive people also had increased amounts of video watching, gaming and chatting.

The Application:

Now that the study has been completed, there is a practical application for this information. Perhaps software installed in home computers which could indicate early signs of depression.  This could also be used on wider networks such as universities or even corporate networks for an early “heads-up-alert”

So whilst this is not THE only solution for early depression detection, it is a good tool to use in conjunction with mental health professionals.

It might also prevent the next Campus shootings, or Postal Office massacres and for that alone, its worth while having a look…

One comment

  1. Interesting study, but don’t they still need to prove that high internet usage CAUSES depression? They’ve proved that there is a definite correlation between the two, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the internet is the sole cause. (I mean, it’s possible that people watch videos and play games BECAUSE they’re depressed, in an attempt to feel better. And a person with an anxious personality type may frequently check emails just because it’s in their nature.) Anyway, it will be interesting to see what results other researchers come up with on this topic – we might seriously need to reduce our internet intake if they prove it really does lead to depression! Thanks for the post!

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