Teens who spend far too much time on the Internet run the risk of developing depression, a new Australian study suggests.
Since the 1990s, uncontrolled or unreasonable Internet use has been identified as a problem with signs similar to other addictions, researchers say. Pathological Internet use has been linked with relationship problems, health problems, aggressive behavior and other psychiatric symptoms, they added.
"Parents should be vigilant about their children's online behavior," said lead researcher Lawrence T. Lam, from the School of Medicine, Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia. "Should there be any concern about young people involving problematic Internet-use behavior, professional help should be sought immediately."
This sort of behavior may be a manifestation of some underlying problems that are more insidious, Lam said.
"Given the results obtained from the study, even mentally healthy young people may succumb to depression after a long exposure of problematic use of the Internet. The mental health consequences of problematic Internet use for those who have already had a history of psychological or psychiatric problems would be more damaging," he said.
The report is published in the Aug. 2 online edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, in advance of publication in the October print issue.