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JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018 May 22;5(2):e44. doi: 10.2196/mental.8471.

Internet Use, Depression, and Anxiety in a Healthy Adolescent Population: Prospective Cohort Study.

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Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Brigham and Women's Hospital & Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States.
Center on Media and Child Health, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States.



Psychiatric disorders, including conduct disturbances, substance abuse, and affective disorders, emerge in approximately 20% of adolescents. In parallel with the rise in internet use, the prevalence of depression among adolescents has increased. It remains unclear whether and how internet use impacts mental health in adolescents.


We assess the association between patterns of internet use and two mental health outcomes (depression and anxiety) in a healthy adolescent population.


A total of 126 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 years were recruited. Participants reported their typical computer and internet usage patterns. At baseline and one-year follow-up, they completed the Beck Depression Index for primary care (BDI-PC) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory for Primary Care (BAI-PC). Individual linear regressions were completed to determine the association between markers of internet use at baseline and mental health outcomes at one-year follow-up. All models controlled for age, gender, and ethnicity.


There was an inverse correlation between minutes spent on a favorite website per visit and BAI-PC score. No association was found between internet use and BDI-PC score.


There is no relationship between internet use patterns and depression in adolescents, whereas internet use may mitigate anxiety in adolescents with higher levels of baseline anxiety.


internet use; mental health; psychiatric disorders; social networking sites

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