Technology and Depression
Have you ever wondered if you or someone you love is addicted to the internet? (Try taking this short assessment.)
We all know somebody who tunes out the world and withdraws from family life, their eyes focused on nothing but a glowing internet screen.
Maybe for you, that person is your child, your spouse … or even yourself.
Research Shows a Relationship Between Internet Addiction and Depression
Several studies in the past few years have established a connection between excessive or addictive internet usage and depression. One British study of 1,319 young people and adults, published in 2010, reported, “[Internet addiction] is linked to depression, such that those who regard themselves as dependent on the Internet report high levels of depressive symptoms. Those who show symptoms of IA are likely to engage proportionately more than the normal population in sites that serve as a replacement for real-life socialising.”
Another study, conducted in 2008, focused on adolescents in the large, southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou. It measured both the levels of depression and anxiety found in participants and whether or not they were addicted to the internet, using the same assessment you were invited to take earlier in this article, an assessment that the study’s summary describes as “based on the concepts and behaviors exhibited by pathological gamblers as definite by the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. It includes questions that reflect typical behaviors of addiction.”
After establishing a baseline of data on the study’s adolescent subjects, the researchers returned to survey them again nine months later. The researchers concluded that “young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence.”
Researchers in both studies acknowledged that right now it’s not clear which factor is the catalyst. Does internet addiction cause depression—or does depression cause internet addiction? Or do they simply exist side by side?
In Some Instances, Internet Usage Is Associated with Decreased Depression and Isolation
Further complicating matters is research published in 2014. While using the internet excessively can be associated with depression, usage of the internet also seems to be associated with alleviation of isolation and depression in the elderly. The study’s authors concluded, “we found a positive contribution of Internet use to mental well-being of retired older adults in the United States, where Internet use reduced the probability of a depression state by one third.”
The Internet: Keeping It in Balance
It’s not rocket science. We all know from experience that too much internet usage can lead to isolation and depression but that the internet can also be a valuable tool that helps us connect with others, stimulates our creativity, and enables us to explore the world in ways that we could have only dreamed of in past decades.
Our children are growing up in a world where a constantly present internet is the new norm. As moms and dads, we are being faced with new dilemmas that no other generation has had to consider previously. We desperately need good tools to help us utilize the “good stuff” of the internet while helping to keep our human tendencies toward addiction in check.
We need tools that will help our kids stay socially connected to others, both online and in real-world interactions.
We need tools, frankly, that will help us as parents curb our own online addictive tendencies.
We need boundaries on time and usage that help us maintain perspective in a rapidly evolving world.
How Kudoso Can Help
That’s why I’m so excited about the tools that Kudoso is developing to help families enjoy the wonders of technology without letting screens totally overtake their lives. Using the Kudoso Plug (a physical piece of hardware that controls power to even your non-smart devices) and the Kudoso Gateway (a combination of router and software), electronics can be turned off and on based on completely customizable boundaries you set up for your family (completion of certain tasks, time limits on usage, limits on activity or device).
Kudoso’s technology can also help you set up better boundaries for your own tech usage, enabling you to follow through on personal goals and to spend more time interacting with your family instead of having your head buried in a device.
Setting better boundaries for tech usage can help you and your family enjoy technology but not allow it to overrun your lives. It might even help your family members decrease their risk of depression.
If you or a family member are showing signs of internet addiction, click on over to Kudoso and see what our unique product can do to help!
By Rebecca Florence Miller, Kudoso Kontributor