S Chellappan took a bit of a different tact when he looked at internet usage via network stats, then compared that to where his users fell on a depressive scale. He found that there were different patterns for those ranked higher in depression. 1
The paper interpreted the stats as showing depressed students had:
- More video and gaming use.
- More switching between applications.
- Greater peer to peer file sharing.
- Greater chatting.
- More email usage, including merely checking for messages.
Whether these were triggers, or symptoms, was, in my mind, not brought out too strongly in the paper, but some additional sources were cited to help clarify what the case might be.
If we see these activities as attempts by those with depression to help mitigate its effects, reaching out of their isolation, it would be important to build these features/topics into a support community. It would help those in the community, keep them active, and draw in others.
If we see these activities as symptoms, we might be on lookout to help people who exhibit these behaviors.
If we see these activities as triggers, we would want to minimize them in our community. However, because the actual switching between applications is one of the issues, we might not be too successful, and it may be better to address the issues head-on.
1. S Chellappan “Associating Depressive Symptoms in College Students with Internet Usage Using Real Internet Data” To appear in IEEE Technology & Society Magazine