I Can Haz Sad

What Your Internet Usage Says About You

You're probably depressed.
 What Your Internet Usage Says About You

(Photo: Zazzle)

If you spend a ton of time watching videos or frantically switching between programs or obsessively checking your email, you might actually be depressed–at least according to a study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology published in this weekend’s New York Times Sunday Review.

Sriram Chellappan, an assistant professor at M.U.S.T., believes that your Internet behavior can paint an accurate portrait of your mental state, but his findings may surprise you. Or…maybe they won’t, depending on your daily pill regimen.

Mr. Chellappan analyzed the Internet usage data of the students, and found a few key behaviors that correlate with depression:

  • Lots of file sharing
  • Obsessive email usage
  • Frequently tabbing between windows and programs and not focusing on just one website at once
  • Watching a lot of videos
  • Playing a lot of games
  • Chatting a lot

By those symptoms, practically everyone we know is depressed, so we’re a little skeptical about the broad-ranging nature of Mr. Chellappan’s findings. Or maybe everyone we know is┬ádepressed? We’re anxious young Internet obsessives living in New York, after all.

“We hope to use our findings to develop a software application that could be installed on home computers and mobile devices,” Mr. Chellappan wrote in the New York Times. “It would monitor your Internet usage and alert you when your usage patterns might signal symptoms of depression.”

Oh great, another annoying piece of software that could interrupt us while watching Netflix. We’ll pass.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com