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Internet Addiction May Put Teens at Risk for Facebook Depression

August 6, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Facebook imageWould your teen start to get the shakes after 15 minutes if you took away the computer and all their Bluetooth-enabled devices? If so, it may be time to worry about their online usage’s impact on their mental health.

A study published on Monday by the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine suggests that teenagers who are pathologic Internet users are twice as likely to develop clinical depression.

The study involved self-reporting from 1,100 high schoolers in China on their Internet usage and prevalence of depression symptoms. Emotionally healthy teens were more likely to report symptoms of depression 9 months later if they were also addicted to the Internet.

To compound the problem, the university researchers behind the study reported that Internet addiction also leads to increased aggressive behavior, relationship problems, and even physical health problems.

The findings of the study remained constant among kids with different economic statuses, ages, and genders – although teen boys were more likely than girls to report use in the first place.

Remember that this study only proves that Internet addiction and depression are likely to occur together, not which one caused the other. Maybe Internet addiction causes depression, or perhaps teens developing depression are more likely to turn to the Internet in an effort to self-medicate.

Either way, it’s time to talk if your teen exhibits signs of Internet addiction like:

    • Isolating self from real-life family and friends
    • Withdrawing from offline interests
    • Hiding or lying about Internet use
    • Online time interferes with homework or sleep
    • Eating meals or doing other activities in front of the computer
    • Developing carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Gaining or losing weight
    • Complaining of frequent backaches or headaches
    • Having trouble focusing on offline tasks
    • Appearing anxious, moody, or restless, especially when offline

When Internet use turns into addiction, it interferes with your child’s life and therefore becomes a problem. It may also mean that there is something more going on than meets the eye. Addictive online behavior is your cue as a parent to talk to your teen.

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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