The present study investigated whether higher levels of Internet use are associated with depression and social isolation among adolescents. Eighty-nine high school seniors were administered a questionnaire that measured low (less than 1 hour per day), moderate (1-2 hours per day), and high (more than 2 hours per day) Internet use; relationships with mother, father, and peers; and depression. Low Internet users, as compared with high users, reported better relationships with their mothers and friends.
The impact of Internet use and abuse is increasingly being investigated (Young & Rogers, 1998; Kraut et al., 1998), and social scientists are beginning to address related issues (Stokols, 1999; Morahan-Martin, 1998; Young, 1999). Recently, an online survey examined scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Internet addiction (Young & Rogers, 1998). Participants were self-selected, having accessed a Web site with either of two keywords, Internet or addiction. Internet addiction was determined using a modified version of the DSM-IV profile for gambling addiction. The mean BDI score of respondents identified as addicted (11.2) fell within the mild to moderate range.
In a two-year longitudinal study (Kraut et al., 1998), randomly selected families were given computers and instruction on Internet use. After 1 to 2 years, increased use of the Internet was associated with decreased family communication and reduced size of local social circle. In addition, the participants experienced increased loneliness and depression. Increases in loneliness and decreases in social support were particularly pronounced for the youth. The latter finding highlights the importance of studying Internet use among adolescents, particularly since it is increasing dramatically among this age group.
In 1996, nearly 12% of 13- to 17-year-olds (who had access) used Internet services. Internet use by those between the ages of 2 and 17, which was 6.5% in 1996, is projected to rise to 31.4% in 2002, with over half...