Alan A. Brandyberry, Kent State University, “The Effects Of Depression On Internet Usage And E-Commerce Adoption”

Proposed arguments:

  1. social augmentation hypothesis: Internet augments social avenues, expands social network
  2. social displacement hypothesis: Internet displaces valuable everyday interaction, leads to withdrawal from real world
  3. social compensation hypothesis: helps folks who are initially impoversihed socially to build relationships

Research questions:

  1. relationship between depression and Internet usage?
  2. if so, is it causal? (depressed because using Internet? using Internet because depressed?)
  3. Internet therapeutic or exasperating (depression, anger)?
  4. additional moderating factors (e.g. social isolation)?

Major limitation: not using established scales for depression

Over sample of 1448, found depression positively correlated with increased Internet usage: correl 0.07, good p… but yes, we have a serious question of statistical significance versus practical significance. It’s a real relationship, but a really small relationship. This isn’t a population of depressed people, so you will find lots of other motivations for using the Internet that outshout depression.

Depression and e-commerce use: correl -0.06, fair p-value; odd that depressed folks use a little more Internet but a little less e-commerce.

Depression and pathological Internet use? correl 0.13, really good p. Question stemming: does depression increase passive Internet use and decrease active/interactive Internet use?

Depression positively correlates with social deficit; negatively with social contribution need, hedonic need, communication need, and community need

Depression not seen as a mediator

Depression and passive use (lurking)? correl 0.07, good p. Perhaps explains the negative e-commerce effect: depressed folks are online, but they don’t take active role. (Now if I could just find a way to facilitate passive shopping.)

Future directions: would be cool to determine factors that increase depression and prescribe active Internet activities to alleviate, look at exacerbating effects of increased Internet usage and ways to manage Internet activities as part of treatment.