Compulsive Internet Use and Depression in Youth

Use of instant messenger applications is linked to depressive symptoms in adolescents, according to a study published in the May issue of Developmental Psychology. Researchers found that instant messaging and chat room users were more likely to report compulsive internet use (“loss of control, preoccupation with the Internet, and Internet use resulting in conflict with others or self-conflict”); use of e-mail was not related to compulsive behaviour. Depressive symptoms were also higher for those who frequently used instant messenger programs.

The researchers thought that the use of instant messenging to meet or interact with new people might displace interactions with family and friends, leading to an increase in depression, and called for further study of compulsive internet use.

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