Depression and Anxiety Linked to Using Multiple Media Forms
When I write these news items I typically have my source open on one half of my screen, the editor I use to write my item on the other half and some music playing in the background. Thankfully I do not actively listen to the music but instead use it for noise because according to researchers at Michigan State University, multiple media use is linked to depression and anxiety in young people. The nature of this link is not yet known though, so they cannot comment if the multitasking causes the depression or anxiety, or if people with depression or anxiety are drawn to multitasking.
To perform the experiment the researchers asked 319 people about their media consumption and also gave them a mental health survey. The consumption survey inquired about how often the subjects used multiple forms of primary media, such as television, music, cell phones, computers, video games, and more, during a week. The mental health survey uses well-established measures for assessing the subjects' mental states, but is not unto-itself a means to clinically diagnose them with any illness.
The next step in this research is of course to determine causation. If multitasking with different kinds of media does indeed cause depression or anxiety, then means to alleviate the problem will have to be developed. If instead those with depressive and anxious tendencies are drawn to multitasking, a new approach to treating the illnesses may be possible, or at least a new warning sign has been discovered.