Interesting WSJ.com piece.
Internet games, gambling and other forms of online entertainment have seen significant surges in use in the several months since the economic downturn deepened. Social-networking services like Facebook, blogs and discussion forums — all well-known time sinks even during good times — are also seeing strong growth. Some purveyors of online entertainment say business has never been so good for them.
Robert Kraut, a professor of social psychology and human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says games and other forms of entertainment can provide escape for people steeped in anxieties about the economy. “There’s evidence these distractions have a psychological benefit because they prevent a downward spiral of rumination,” says Dr. Kraut.