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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 31, 1998)
Internet leaves users depressed
Web time isn’t emotionally fulfilling, study shows
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The more
hours people spend on the Internet,
the more depressed, stressed and
lonely they feel, according to a
groundbreaking study that surprised
Internet use had the same effect
even for people who spent most of
their time in such social activities as
chat rooms or exchanging e-mail,
said the study headed by Robert
Kraut, a social psychology professor
at Carnegie Mellon University in
Sociable Internet users ended up
feeling just as isolated as users who
spent more time crawling the Web for
information, Kraut said Sunday.
One reason for the negative effect
may have been that using the Internet
left less time for the deeper relation
ships of friends and family, Kraut
“People are substituting weaker
social ties for stronger ones,” he said.
“They’re substituting conversations
on narrower topics with strangers for
conversations with people who are
connected to their life.”
It was the first study to examine
the emotional impact of people’s
Internet use ova- time, Kraut said
The findings contradicted the
researchers’ expectation that Internet
use would foster social contact, espe
cially through e-mail and chat rooms.
Kraut and his colleagues followed
93 Pittsburgh-area families for two
years. The families were given com
puters, phone lines and use of the
Internet for free, in return for agree
ing to fill out occasional question
The true-false questionnaires
included such statements as “I can’t
find companionship when I want it,”
“I felt that everything I did was an
effort,” and “I felt I could not shake
off the blues, even with help from my
family and friends.”
The number of hours they spent
on line were recorded electronically.
Participants’ levels of depression
and loneliness were measured at the
start of the study. At the end of the two
years, researchers found they could
predict changes in an individual’s
emotional state according to die num
ber of hours spent on die Internet.
The reverse was not true.
“Depression and loneliness doesn’t
predict subsequent use of the
Internet,” Kraut said.
The $1.5 million study was fund
ed by the National Science
Foundation, the Markle Foundation
and 13 computer, software and com
munications companies, including
AT&T Research, Bell Atlantic, the
U.S. Postal Service, Apple Computer,
Hewlett Packard and Intel. It is to be
published this week in The American
Psychologist, the monthly journal of
the American Psychological
One study participant, 17-year
old Andrea Rubinsky of Pittsburgh,
said she didn’t feel any worse for her
Internet use, although her Internet use
has dropped since the study began.
She started out using it 10 to 15 hours
per week but now averages about
three hours, she said.
“It just also might be I have more
things to do now,” Andrea said.
She made no lasting friends
through the chat rooms, she said, but
does use e-mail to keep up with
friends she has met in person.
Her father, Peter, also didn’t feel
he ever neglected personal relation
ships to spend time online.
“I would say there’s a conflict
with other things that needed to get
done. The grass didn't get mowed
sometimes, and the car didn’t get
washed,” Rubinsky said.
Researchers will continue the
study so they can examine the mecha
nisms that seem to produce emotional
effects and learn how computer use
compares with television use.
Other scientists told The New
York limes that the research may start
a debate over how the Internet should
Christine Riley, a psychologist at
Oregon-based Intel, told the Times
the research results surprised her but
that more study was needed.
Tora Bikson, a senior scientist at»
Rand, the research institution, said the
study was carefully done and not eas
Global issues take the stage
Dorothy “Dot” Ridings will set the
foundation for the 1998-99 E.N.
Thompson lectures at UNL.
Ridings, the president and chief
executive officer of the Council of
Foundations, will kick off the E.N.
Thompson Forum ofWorid Issues lec
ture series Sept 9 at the Lied Center for
Performing Arts with her lecture, “As
the World Turns: Global Giving Goes
The lecture will begin at 3:30 p m
and will be available via satellite at
sites throughout the state.
Ridings will describe how founda
tions have increased greatly around the
world in the past decade. In 1996,
foundations contributed $14 billion in
the United States alone, she said, but
with fewer government resources
available, foundations and other non
governmental organizations will have
to do more.
Record stock market growth and
an expected international transfer of
more than $10 trillion over the next 40
years leads Ridings to believe orga
nized philanthropy will be encouraged
Her lecture is the first of five in this
year’s series. The others are:
■ Oct. 13: Edward O. Wilson,
Pellegrino University professor and
cwator in entomology at die Museum
of Comparative Zoology, Havrar
University, “Consilience: the Unity of
■ Nov. 12: Robert K. Hitchcock,
chairman and associate professor of
anthropology at NU, “Africa:
Development and Human Rights.”
■ March 9: Anthony Lake, former
national security adviser to President
Clinton, “Superpower or Supercop:
Dangers and Opportunities in the Post
Cold War Era.”
■ April 14: Peter Arnett, Pulitzer
Prize-winning CNN international cor
respondent, “Live for the Battlefield:
From Vietnam to Baghdad to Bosnia.”
Serial kiUer expert to speak
The founder of the FBI’s Violent
Criminal Apprehension Program will
share his expertise on serial killers,
sexual violence and the criminal mind
A part of the Nebraska Wesleyan
lecture series, Robert Ressler’s presen
tation will be in the O’Donnell
Auditorium, 50th Street and
Huntington Avenue, at 1 p.m. It’s free
and open to the public.
Ressler saved with the FBI from
1970 to 1990 and has investigated and
interviewed serial killers including
Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, John
Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and David
Berioowitz. -- • • v • v.
Particle lecture to be given
The UNL Department ofPhysics
and Astronomy will present a lecture
by Steven L. Guberman on Thursday
called, “What Happens When a
Molecule Captures an Electron.”
Guberman is with the Institute for
Scientific Research in Lexington,
Mass. He will speak at 4 p.m. in the
Brace Laboratory auditorium, Room
211. Refreshments will served at 3:30
in Room 201.
Speaker to discuss proteins
Cad Frieden will be a guest of the
UNL chemistry department on Friday
to give his lecture, “The Search for
Intermediates in tire Protein Folding
Frieden is a professor in the
Department of Biochemistry and
Molecular Biophysics at Washington
University School of Medicine in St
He will talk at 3:30 p.m. in
Hamilton Hall, Room 110.
Come down Aug 31 - Sept 4
Present your student ID to get a
chance in our drawing for a
Trek Mountain Bike!
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