Study Shows Depressed People Surf Web Differently
Surfing the web has become a daily ritual for most of us, whether it be a necessity for work, or a way to kill time. But what we do online may offer up clues to our emotional well-being, according to this column from the NY Times. A study was set up to research how people spend their time online, be it watching videos, emailing, playing games, or downloading and sharing files – to get a clue about people’s psyche.
In the study the questionnaire clued researchers in that 30 percent of participants met the criteria to be called depressed. This isn’t a stretch considering national averages place 10-40 percent of college students as at some times depressives. Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers then watched how these students – depressed and non – used the internet.
What did they find? That the depressed group behaved online in a different way than their non-depressed peers. The depressed folks tend to have a tougher time concentrating (a symptom of depression according to the National Institute of Health) and switched tasks more frequently. They also checked email more frequently (leading to or resulting from higher anxiety?) and shared files (such as movies and music) more frequently.
The next step with this data is to create a software application that parents, universities or others could install to track users’ online behavior and send an alert when patterns appear that indicate depression. The thought being that this could help with kids who are already under treatment need an added measure of security. What happens with this research remains to be seen, but is in no way a replacement for mental health professionals.
How do you spend your time online?
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