Have you seen news articles suggesting that one might be able to predict depression on the basis of how you use the Internet? If not, read about it here in a very brief essay. Bottom line, the study may find that depressed college students use more P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing than their non-depressed counterparts. The depressed group may also do far more application switching (e.g., check email, look up sports scores, open other apps, etc.) suggesting an appearance of bored surfing for something to stimulate them out of their negative mood.
On the one hand, these possible results make some sense. Depressed people may be looking for stimulus and social connection to raise their mood. They may have less focus on more mindless activity on the net. However, as this essay reminds us, there are a number of problems with the research that show up in many of the “newsy” items that show up on the Internet or on television news.
Despite the caveats we must place on such “news”, it does provide a great opportunity for each of us to evaluate our Internet habits.What are we doing on-line…really? What do our habits say about what we are looking for, desiring, etc.? What are we avoiding while we are on-line? What are we trying to fill?
I can tell you that my usage, at times, tells me I am not wanting to engage some bit of work that I have on my plate. Far better to check email than to write a difficult section of an upcoming lecture. Far better to read an important blog than to go talk to my kids about something that I’ve been avoiding. Or…so it seems at the moment.
What does your Internet usage tell you about you?