Are Internet Addicts Isolated?

I was reading the article that the Guardian posted about excessive use of the Internet being a possible relation to increased depression, to which they posed the idea that maybe the people who use the Internet “excessively” are predisposed to an isolated life, where depression is a likely symptom.

I know I use the Internet excessively, more than most people, and I often wonder about the effects of this use, and the isolation I sometimes inflict on myself. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself bereft of any human contact, and certainly I’m not a melancholy sort of fellow…. still, the study abstract does not define what addiction is, nor what it means to be addicted or how much use construes addiction (and the three academic libraries I have access to don’t link to the journal it was published in).

Combine the information that 14% or so of excessive Internet users are also depressed, which begs the question, what’s the percentage of folks that are depressed in general? Do we have reason to be worried? This sort of infographic that recounts the State of the Internet 2009 adds a level of depth to those finding… well, maybe it does. Does that mean that approximately 13% of people aged 18-29 are depressed?

What I Learned This Week

According to the World Internet Usage Statistics, North American Internet use is 15% of the world, and the penetration of the Internet in North America is almost 74%. To contrast, Asian Internet use is 42.2% of the world and the penetration of the Internet in Asia is at 18.5%. Clearly, I interpret this to mean that as Asia grows and becomes more connected, we will see more Chinese, Japanese and Korean language webpages on the internet, meaning the end of English as the dominant language of the Internet. What this means for education is that there’s a huge distance education market growing, and the forward thinking education institutions will be grabbing at those folks.

Mobile video is an emerging technology that is coming into the mainstream. The mobile video ad market is growing (slowly). The reason this has been slow to develop is that fast wireless networks and data plans that weren’t an arm and a leg are relatively new to North America. This will become more mainstream as 3G networks become commonplace. When Microsoft and Ford are beginning to buy ad time with mobile video in mind, you know it’s going to be important. Again, educators need to keep this idea in mind – so that the technology we use isn’t locked into one intended use. I can certainly see that mobile video will be important in developing countries as well – as internet connectivity has skipped over home use and gone directly to cellphones in places where technology is a luxury.

Two interesting things coming out of this Wall Street Journal blog about Wikipedia. The first is that approximately 20% of editors of Wikipedia pages have a Master’s or better. I wonder what that means for the authority boogey man that people trot out everytime someone says that Wikipedia isn’t a good source. I think this means that it is a good source, if you do the leg-work to ensure that it’s correct and are not lazy about fact checking. Secondly, people contribute to Wikipedia for mostly altruistic purposes. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s pleasant to see that people actually are good sometimes. Yes, the fact that Wikipedia users are predominantly men is interesting, but the blog comments by Tara Deck covers it pretty good, and I have nothing to add to her comments.

Also from the WSJ, a blog post about the EFF’s DIY test (called Switzerland) to see if your ISP is blocking packets for peer to peer transactions.

Video Watching Online On The Rise

According to this newly released study by the Pew Institute, the percentage of adults watching videos online has doubled since 2006. They draw a correlation to the amount of users with broadband connections which has hit 63% of Americans. The report also compares activities of what people do online, in one of the more complex ideas brought about by the study. 62% watch videos, 46% use social networking sites and 11% use Twitter/share updates.

I find those ideas interesting because I’m stumped as to how I would answer because most of the videos I see come from social networking sites or Twitter… my experience online is not so binary. How does multitasking fit in?

Also, I was hoping that the study would’ve looked at what kinds of videos (well, not in depth, I suppose those sorts of videos could be classified as “entertainment” I suppose) were viewed: humourous, educational, entertainment, etc

Of course, the study was slanted towards the looking at internet vs. TV, which isn’t a shock. Similar to looking at TV vs. Radio in the mid to late 50’s.