London: Teenagers who are obsessed with
Internet are more likely to become depressed, scientists have
claimed, suggesting schools should watch out for early
Researchers from Australia and China found teenagers who
feel anxious or nervous when they are not on the Internet,
called a pathological habit, are two and a half times more
likely to develop depression, the Telegraph reported.
The scientists, who examined over 1,000 teenagers with an
average age of 15, asked them about their Internet use.
They found that just over six per cent of the teenagers
were pathological users of the Internet, who said they felt
depressed, moody or nervous when not on the Internet but this
disappeared when they were back online.
At the beginning of the study, none of the participants
had depression. But nine months after when the
teenagers were examined again for signs of anxiety or
depression, it was found that the pathological Internet users
were two and half times more likely to show signs of the
condition than those who used the Internet normally.
Detailing their findings in the journal `Archives of
Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine`, the authors led by
Lawrence Lam, of the School of Medicine in Sydney, wrote:
"This result suggests that young people who are initially free
of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically
could develop depression as a consequence.
"As we understand that mental health problems among
adolescents bear a significant personal cost as well as costs
to the community, early intervention and prevention that
targets at-risk groups with identified risk factors is
effective in reducing the burden of depression among young
"Screening for at-risk individuals in the school setting
could be considered an effective early prevention strategy
according to recent meta-analysis.
Hence, a screening programme for pathological use of the
Internet could also be considered in all high schools to
identify individuals at risk for early counselling and
However it cannot be known if teenagers who have a
tendency to depression are more likely to be obsessive about
the Internet rather than the Internet being the cause of their