A study published in the journal for Psychopathology has some good and bad news. Out of an online survey of 1,319 internet users aged 16 to 51, with an average age of 21, most were deemed not to be addicted to the internet.
Only 18 respondents--or 1.2-percent--were classified by the researchers as internet addicts. Those who were addicted to the internet spend proportionately more time on sex, gambling and online community websites, according to the BBC.
The bad news is that those addicted to the internet exhibited a significantly higher incidence of depression over the non-addicted majority. Of course, the question now is of a chicken or egg nature.
"Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don't know is which comes first--are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?" said lead author Dr. Catriona Morrison. "Now we need to investigate the nature of that relationship and consider the issue of causation."
One explanation is that the internet could just be a modern day distraction for those who are unhappy. Dr. Vaughan Bell, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London said, "There are genuinely people who are depressed or anxious who use the internet to the exclusion of the rest of their lives, but there are similar people who watch too much TV, bury themselves in books or go shopping to excess. There is no good evidence that the problem is the internet itself."