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Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Suffer From Depression, Study Says

depressed teenager with keyboard backgroundWe already knew that hardcore Internet use could make us all feel lonely, depressed and pathetic. According to a new study out of China, though, teenage Web-addicts may be particularly susceptible to a nasty case of the blues.

The study, which was authored by researchers Lawrence Lam and Zi-wen Peng, involved 1,041 teenagers who were identified as being free of depression at the beginning of the examination. Nine months later, however, 84 of the teenagers were found to be suffering from depression. More importantly, subjects who spent excessive amounts of time on the Internet were one and a half times more prone to such issues than their comparatively moderate peers. These results led Lam to suggest that "young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence."

As Reuters reports, Lam believes that online games may cause kids to stress out and lose sleep, which can often lead to more serious pathologies. Since the Internet has proven to be addictive, it's often difficult for many to break free of its psychological strangle. "Some spend more than 10 hours a day, they are really problematic users and they show signs and symptoms of addictive behavior," Lam explains. "They can't get their minds off the Internet, they feel agitated if they don't get back on after a short period of being away." And, while the Internet may seem to be getting more "social," Lam says that most of the Web-addled teens in his study didn't want to spend time with their parents, friends or siblings if it meant compromising their online rituals.

So, what can parents do to help teenagers? Well, Lam recommends that all students be examined and screened for Internet addiction in school, and be sent to counseling or treatment centers in the event that they display worrisome behavior. We're still not sure, though, how any in-school test could possibly measure the severity of a behavior that typically takes place outside of school hours. If anyone could sound the alarm on a kid's addiction, it would probably be his or her parents -- not a school psychologist or guidance counselor. As for treatment, we'll defer to the experts, although, as China's proven, we're pretty sure that Internet boot camps don't work. [From: Reuters]

Tags: addiction, china, depression, Internet, InternetAddiction, MentalHealth, OnlineGames, OnlineGaming, students, studies, study, teens, top, treatment, web