The amount and type of online activity Internet users exhibit may be indicators of depression, findings a group of researchers hopes will lead to software tools to help identify depressive behavior.
People who showed symptoms of depression tended to use the Internet differently than those who didn't show signs of depression, researchers said in a New York Times opinion piece today. Some of that behavior included obsessively checking e-mail, watching lots of videos, and switching frequently among multiple apps, according to a new study by researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The researchers asked 216 college students to complete a questionnaire to determine whether they were depressed, then asked the school's information technology department to examine how the students spent their time on the Internet.
"This didn't mean snooping on what the students were looking at or whom they were e-mailing; it merely meant monitoring how they were using the Internet -- information about traffic flow that the university customarily collects for troubleshooting network connections and such," the researchers said.
They then conducted a statistical analysis of the depression scores and Internet usage patterns. Researchers found a correlation between high depression scores and greater instances of sharing... [Read more]