Does the Internet Affect People's Mental Health?

Over the past years, the development of the phenomenon of the internet has become an important aspect of human daily life in various ways. The use of the internet has long been researched to have several effects on the mental health of individuals particularly adolescents and young adults. Is the use of internetlinkedthe associated with the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms and linked to stress among the youth who are dependent on it?

One must first look into the different types of internet use among adolescents and young adults, how much is used, and what can be the consequences of unhealthy internet use.

One type of activity of internet use involves surfing, where individuals visit websites on the Internet without any means of communicating. Surfing has a strong connection to an involved internet Addiction disorder. Symptoms of this disorder are deception of time spent surfing, overly preoccupied with using the Internet, mood changes, and even having some distress coming from the environment.

(Selfhout, M. H., Branje, S. J., Delsing, M., ter Bogt, T. F., & Meeus, W. H. (2009). According to the article, surfing could help increase depression and social anxiety in individuals if not controlled.

Is there such a thing as internet addiction disorder? Internet addiction disorder or even known as Pathological Internet Use, has recently emerged as a new clinical disorder. It can be a lack of self-control from participating in internet-related activities. It is more difficult to control using the internet when it is very convenient and easy to access on something as convenient as a cellphone.

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Individuals relying on the internet can prove to be beneficial when used appropriately but the problem emerges when using the internet interferes with daily activities and begins to affect one’s performance and social skills.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is said to be an emotion defined by thoughts and feelings of worry and nervousness. It is fear of a possible threat when it is unlikely to happen. It can affect the individual in various ways such as emotionally, mentally, and last but not least, physically. It is normal to have anxiety because it helps individuals deal with stressful situations and causes individuals to react to actual danger with additional caution if needed.

Anxiety happens in various circumstances involving school, work, or home-related as long as the stress is involved. It does not matter whether that stress arises from his or her affairs of familial, marital, financial, and last but not least emotional trauma which can mean the death of a loved one the individual. Anxiety would be considered normal until it begins to grow into a fear which grows to inhibit an individual’s daily activities. It starts to cross the line to where it is now preventing the individual from performing normal daily activities properly. Anxiety disorders differ greatly from normal anxiety.

Phobias are another category of anxiety disorder. Phobias are described as being irrational fears of something specific like snakes and heights. There are many types of phobias involved but in regards to how they are connected with internet use, the most common one is a social phobia or social anxiety disorder. from

Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia. Social anxiety is when individuals fear being rejected by others such as their peers, and they are also afraid of being embarrassed in any way especially when in public or interacting with another person. Sufferers of the disorder called social anxiety would avoid not going out in public just to avoid situations like that and would feel great distress when having to involve themselves socially in social interactions in public. Symptoms of social anxiety include sweating, fast heartbeat, trembling hands, legs, and so on., and lightheadedness. Social Anxiety disorders are reported to have a link with substance abuse and alcohol. According to the DSM-V, 300.23 social anxiety disorder is a common disorder affecting 50–80% of adolescents with a prevalence of 12–16% of the population. (insert citation from the article).

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) a form of talk therapy helps the person learn ways of thinking, acting, and responding to combat. It can be used to

Another type of internet use is called Instant Messaging (IM-ing). Instant messaging is defined as simply sending messages to other people in an online conversation. It is said to be used as a private and perhaps convenient training ground for teenagers who have a desire to develop, practice, and ultimately improve their social skills and build relationships socially. According to researchers, unwarranted socializing on the internet can help increase individuality in adolescents but can cause distance to grow between adolescents and their family and friend. It provides fewer opportunities for the person to experience face-to-face interaction with peers, professors, supervisors, and so on (Wolak et al., 2003). These methods of online social media could potentially give rise to the development of less depression and social anxiety among adolescents and young adults.

Consistent with these expectations, a cross-sectional survey study among freshmen college students showed that whereas increased time spent IM-ing was uniquely associated with less reported depression, increased time spent surfing was reported more depression within the college student body Morgan & Cotten, 2003). In contrast, a recent longitudinal study showed that IM-ing predicted more depression over six months among 12e15-year-old adolescents (Van den Eijnden, Meerkerk, Vermulst, Spijkerman, & Engels, 2008). Further, although it has been suggested that socially anxious adolescents use Internet activities aimed at communication as a relatively safe way to explore social relationships (Shepherd & Edelmann, 2005; Valkenburg, Schouten, & Peter, 2005), Internet users spend most time IM-ing were not more socially anxious than Internet users spending less time IM-ing (Campbell, Cumming, & Hughes, 2006). Therefore, although it seems conceptually important to distinguish between IM-ing and surfing when examining their links to internalizing problems, empirical studies thus far show inconsistent results regarding depression and indicate that IM-ing is not associated with social anxiety.

Effects of Internet use could be linked to the personality traits of the individual and social context. Individual traits like those who are introverted may use the internet to gain more attention according to some researchers in the past. An aspect of the social context, especially in the adolescence stage is the quality of friendships. Internet use helps motivate adolescents in social situations. There were two hypotheses from this study. The first hypothesis is called the rich-get-richer hypothesis, where instant messaging has positive effects on those with high-quality friendships because it helped maintain close friendships positively. Adolescents who value friendships would use instant messaging to grow their social networking. Results show that higher friendship quality contributes to positive internet use in terms of social networking which helps to improve the well-being of the individual.

Social compensation is the second hypothesis and this hypothesis explains that adolescents with low-quality friendships depending on the internet for social use cause poor social interaction in face-to-face meetings with peers. Individuals with poor friendship quality may use the internet to improve on social skills, self-identity, and worth.

Current studies were carried out to find a connection between Internet use and internalizing problems by examining longitudinal associations of Internet activities for reasons of non-communication and communication with disorders such as depression and social anxiety. Young adults and adolescents use the Internet frequently and can fall victim to the Internet.



Participants are randomly selected. Survey questionnaires would be provided in the study and later gathered by measuring (i.e., perceived friendship quality, depression, social anxiety) and partially at home (i.e., Internet use). Questionnaires concerning Internet use were completed by participants within. We compared the participants to depression, social anxiety, and perceived friendship at Wave 4 and Wave 5. There are said to be no significant differences (F-values ranging from 0.19 to 0.87, p > 0.10) found between these groups at either wave. From now on we will refer to Wave 4 as Time 1 and Wave 5 as Time 2.

Of the 307 participants, 150 were boys (48.8%). At Time 1, the mean age of the adolescents was 15.5 years (ranging from 14 to17 years, SD 1⁄4 0.6). Most adolescents (99.3%) named Dutch as their main ethnic identity. Adolescents were relatively highly educated with approximately 51% of the adolescents at schools preparing for university, 34% of the adolescents at schools preparing for higher professional education, and 15% of the adolescents at schools preparing for blue-collar work.


Before the study, both adolescents and their parents received written consent from the researcher and, if the adolescent wanted to participate in the study, they were required to provide written informed consent. Participants were asked to sit in a room to fill out a survey. Interviewers also visited the families at home. During these home visits, adolescents filled out an additional questionnaire. Of course, the results remain anonymous.


According to this study, researchers evaluated depression and anxiety. Depression was evaluated with CDI which is the Children’s Depression Inventory. ( Kovacs, 1992). The survey had 27 items. Example items would say something similar such as: ‘‘I feel sad sometimes’’. The items were scored on a 3-point scale, ranging from false, through a bit true, to true. A summed, total score was computed by adding the responses of all items. The CDI is used as an instrument to measure depression in non-clinical samples of children and adolescents (Craighead, Smucker, Craighead, & Ilardi, 1998; Kovacs, 1992

Within subjects design

Internet use

The demographics of participants were in a university consisting of various majors, backgrounds, and ethnicities.

Adolescents were asked to fill out questions about the Internet only if they ever used it. Of the 309 participating adolescents in the family sample, 307 (97.5%) filled out questions about using the Internet, namely surfing and IM-ing. Participants were first asked to estimate the average weekly frequency spent chatting or surfing on a five-point scale, ranging from ‘‘never’’, through ‘‘less than once a week’’, through ‘‘about once a week’’, through ‘‘several times a week’’, to ‘‘every day’’. Next, participants estimated how much time on average they spent on an average weekly session of surfing and IM-ing on a scale varying from 30 minutes, to one hour, two hours, or more. The higher the scores the higher it indicates that participants surf and instant message more.

Another study used a method regarding Facebook called the Facebook Questionnaire (FBQ). The FBQ was designed to measure the frequency of use of socially interactive features of Facebook. Three items that are less obviously social (I change/update/check my profile, I look at recently updated statuses, and I look through pictures of my friends) are shown to be measures of Facebook use. However, as the 10-item measure did not show improved internal consistency (a = .86) from the 7-item measure (a = .86), items 8–10 were excluded from further analysis. Participants rated frequency of use on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = about once a month or less, 7 = many times per day).

Tools in this study included Social Interaction Anxiety Scale and the social phobia scale-12 (SIAS- SPS-12). The SIAS and SPS were created to measure social anxiety, social interaction anxiety, and fear of the public. The SIAS-6 and SPS-6 both consisted of 6 item condensed versions of the scales that were originally 20 items. Items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale (0 = Not at all characteristic or true of me, 4 which is ‘extremely characteristic or true of me). Facebook-Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (F-SIAS)The F-SIAS is a seven-item scale designed to measure anxiety on Facebook, and social anxiety symptoms experienced while using Facebook. The Facebook Questionnaire (FBQ). social interaction features of Facebook are included in the FBQ. The measure was modeled after the SIAS, a measure of social anxiety symptoms experienced in face-to-face interactions reviewed above (Mattick & Clarke, 1998). The items of the F-SIAS were rated on the same Likert scale as the SIAS. The F-SIAS showed good internal consistency in the current study (a = .86).

An online survey was used for this study. The survey took approximately five to ten minutes to complete. As compensation for those who participated, participants were asked to enter a drawing for $25 by giving their email addresses so that the winner could be contacted via email. Email addresses were used so that the answers to the study from participants could remain anonymous and ensure confidentiality. (McCord, B., Rodebaugh, T. L., & Levinson, C. A. (2014).

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Does the Internet Affect People's Mental Health?. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

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