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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2002 Apr;5(2):157-71.

In defense of the internet: the relationship between Internet communication and depression, loneliness, self-esteem, and perceived social support.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, USA.


As more people connect to the Internet, researchers are beginning to examine the effects of Internet use on users' psychological health. Due in part to a study released by Kraut and colleagues in 1998, which concluded that Internet use is positively correlated with depression, loneliness, and stress, public opinion about the Internet has been decidedly negative. In contrast, the present study was designed to test the hypothesis that Internet usage can affect users beneficially. Participants engaged in five chat sessions with an anonymous partner. At three different intervals they were administered scales measuring depression, loneliness, self-esteem, and social support. Changes in their scores were tracked over time. Internet use was found to decrease loneliness and depression significantly, while perceived social support and self-esteem increased significantly.

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