Friday, March 26, 2010

Loneliness, misery and the web

In the context of human history the Internet is still a relatively recent development and no-one is quite sure of its psychological consequences. Irena Stepanikova from the University of South Carolina studied over 13,000 people asking them about their Internet use, loneliness and life satisfaction. Some took part in 2004, others took part in 2005 and 754 people participated in both years. The study found participants who reported spending more time browsing the web also tended to report being lonelier and less satisfied with life. Time spent instant messaging, in chat rooms and newsgroups, and in emailing was also linked with more loneliness. Among the people who took part in 2004 and 2005 increased web browsing was associated with increased loneliness and decreased life satisfaction. But it is unclear whether web use increases loneliness and unhappiness, loneliness and unhappiness lead to increased web use or whether there is a third factor that lies behind all three.

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