Researchers Find a Hidden Cost to the Internet
Have you been on the internet yet? If so, it may be costing you more than you think. That's the suggestion of a study done by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The study involved 169 people in 73 households who did not have a connection to the internet. They completed questionnaires and were interviewed in their homes at the beginning of the two year study, during the study and at the end. They were given computers and software, e mail accounts and access to the internet at no cost to them. In return, they allowed researchers to monitor family members' internet use. At the end of the study, researchers found that those who used the internet and e mail frequently showed small but important decreases in the time spent with family members. They also had a smaller circle of friends. Frequent internet and e mail users also showed increased loneliness and signs of mild depression. The greater the computer use, the greater was the loneliness and depression. These results were not affected by race, age, sex, or income. However, this effect was greatest for teens. The researchers suggested that when teens feel isolated and lonely they are more likely to escape to the Internet.
Perhaps the best suggestion in light of these findings is to limit Internet time, just as television time is limited for many young people. The extra time could be used as the book of Proverbs advises: "A man who has friends must himself be friendly." In other words, it is healthy to cultivate friendships.