A new study conducted on internet users by researchers from the Missouri University of Science & Technology revealed that the time spent surfing the web can be
used to gauge stress levels and identify depression in a person.
things have impacted our lives in the recent years like the
internet. At any given time, there are millions of people all over the world
hooked to the internet. Over the years, this number has significantly
monitored the internet usage pattern among 216 college students and then
correlated it with depression scores.
In the new
study carried out by Sriram Chellappan and his colleagues, volunteers were
required to fill out several questions designed to unearth their depression
symptoms. The questions were presented in such a way that the students did not
realize that the researchers were attempting to find out their depression
The volunteers were given a pseudonym
and were identified only with that fictitious name. Every time the students
logged into their university server they were tracked and monitored
anonymously. A month's data was randomly collected and analyzed.
reveal that the pattern of internet usage by a person can provide an early
warning of depression in that person.
have identified that average packets per flow, peer-to-peer (octets, packets
and duration), chat octets, mail (packets and duration), ftp duration, and
remote file octets show statistically significant correlations with depressive
symptoms. Additionally, Mann-Whitney U-tests revealed that average packets per
flow, remote file octets, chat (octets, packets and duration) and flow duration
entropy have a statistically significant difference in the mean values across
groups with and without depressive symptoms," reports the study.
study concluded that those who were feeling depressed or blue were more likely
to email, chat online, play games or exchange files. Dr. Sriram Chellappan, an
assistant professor of computer science at the Missouri university said:
"The study is believed to be the first that uses actual internet data,
collected unobtrusively and anonymously, to associate internet usage with signs
A previous study conducted on the same lines was
considered inaccurate by the current researchers as it required people to
remember and report on their internet usage and to tell how many times they
checked emails and so on.
Chellapan searched the net for people who were willing to talk about their
tryst with depression and the internet, he came across people who would trawl
endlessly over the net to get away from their problems. Although the net is a
good place to find support, many just used it
to escape reality or evade their core issues.
internet can feed a person's paranoia and can also be a very scary place for
those who would like to melt in solitude within its anonymity. The familiarity
of the online community can be comforting to many, particularly to those who
are mentally or physically not inclined to do much during their phases of
depression. On the other hand, the net can also be a good place to meet people
via forums, gaming or support groups, especially for people who cannot afford
therapy or who have limited access to it.
from Missouri University hope to employ this study to diagnose depression in
the future with cost-effective, in-home monitoring software. Meanwhile, more
validation is required in linking a person's mental health status with the time
they spend on the Internet.