Time on the Internet Linked to Teen Depression

A study released* last month reveals too much or too little time on the Internet might be a sign of depression.

The study does not say time on the Internet causes depression, only that teens who are considered “heavy Internet users” or “non-Internet users” are more likely to suffer from depression.

The data came from a survey of more than 7,200 adolescents, ages 16 to 20.

  • Adolescents who used the Internet more than 2 hours a day were considered “heavy Internet users.”
  • Males who are heavy or non-Internet users are both 30% more likely to show signs of depression.
  • Females who are heavy Internet users are 86% more likely to show signs of depression.
  • Females who are non-Internet users are 46% more likely to show signs of depression.

Without drawing too many conclusions from this study, this research should alert parents of older teens who are spending many hours a day—or no time at all—on the Internet. The Internet is a normal part of the intellectual and social life of modern teens, but too much or too little of it may be a symptom of depression.

*Source: Richard E. Bélanger, Christina Akre, et al., “A U-Shaped Association Between Intensity of Internet Use and Adolescent Health.” Pediatrics (Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011)