New Web Worries

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:32pm

Study finds heavy internet use can trigger depression in teens.

Like pep rallies and pimples, the internet has become a fixture in the world of teenagers, but experts say when the net is the only social scene a teen has it's a sign of a serious problem.

"Whether you're limiting your social interactions or it's impacting your school work, or your job your interactions with your family, that's when we start thinking something is looking more pathological," explains pediatric psychologist Dr. Margaret Richards.

A new study finds "pathological" or "excessive" use of the internet may lead to depression in teens.

Researchers say the teenagers in their study were mentally healthy at the beginning of the study, but those who became addicted to using the internet were two and a half times more likely to become depressed within a matter of months.

What's unclear is which came first, the internet or the risk for depression.

Researchers did not ask the teens whether they had a family history of mental illness.

Child psychologists say teens should be limited to about an hour of recreational screen time a day.

That includes mindlessly surfing the net, social networking, video games, TV and movies.

other activities like sports or clubs or going out with their friends so that they're still getting that social interaction," says Dr. Richards.

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