*Direct correspondence to Shelia R. Cotten, Department of Sociology, University of Alabama–Birmingham, HHB 460N, 1530 3rd Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35294-1152 〈email@example.com〉. Shelia R. Cotten will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. The authors thank Henna Budhwani for her early research assistantship support on this project, Bisakha Sen for her statistical guidance, and the University of Alabama–Birmingham's Faculty Development Program for a grant awarded to Drs. Cotten and Drentea.
The Importance of Type, Amount, and Timing of Internet Use for Understanding Psychological Distress*
Article first published online: 3 FEB 2011
© 2011 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
Social Science Quarterly
Volume 92, Issue 1, pages 119–139, March 2011
How to Cite
Cotten, S. R., Goldner, M., Hale, T. M. and Drentea, P. (2011), The Importance of Type, Amount, and Timing of Internet Use for Understanding Psychological Distress. Social Science Quarterly, 92: 119–139. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00760.x
- Issue published online: 3 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 3 FEB 2011
Objective. Few social scientists have examined how Internet usage, including using the Internet for health purposes, may affect mental health. This study assesses whether the type or amount of online health activities and the timing of Internet use are associated with psychological distress.
Methods. We use data from the National Cancer Institute's 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey.
Results. When we compare Internet users to non-Internet users, using the Internet and using the Internet for health purposes are negatively associated with distress. However, among Internet users, the number of online health activities is positively associated with distress. Greater distress is also associated with using the Internet on weekdays and looking online for information on sun protection.
Conclusions. Internet usage is not necessarily positively associated with psychological distress. The effects depend on the type, amount, and timing of Internet usage.