Problematic Use of the Internet and Well-Being among Youth from a Global Perspective: A Mediated-Moderated Model of Socio-Emotional Factors

Dorit Olenik Shemesh, Tali Heiman, Michelle F. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Problematic Use of the Internet (PUI) is characterized as the inability to control one’s internet use or as an excessive use of the internet that may result in social, psychological, and emotional difficulties (Fernandes et al., 2019). It is regarded nowadays as an increasingly worrisome public heath issue, especially among youth. This study explored the contexts in which youth PUI occurs and its associations with socio-emotional functioning that may lead to a decrease in one’s sense of well-being. We conducted this exploration among 783 middle school students from the US (425 students; 54.27%) and Israel (358 students; 45.73%). The overall age of both samples ranged between 12 and 16 (M = 13.94, SD = 1.59). In the Israeli sample, 49.1% of the students were girls and 50.9% were boys, whereas in the US sample, 48.8% were girls and 51.2% were boys. The study examined the role of depressive mood, loneliness, resilience, self-control, and school engagement in mediating the relationship between PUI and well-being, and how country of origin might moderate these relationships. Results indicate PUI was related to lower well-being only for the US sample. Yet, for both samples, higher loneliness was related to lower well-being, and higher school engagement was related to higher well-being. A moderated mediation analysis revealed the socio-emotional variables were all mediators in these associations, but differently for each country sample. The study results are discussed according to key factors required for developing intervention programs for coping with youth PUI behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Genetic Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Problematic use of the internet
  • socio-emotional factors
  • well-being
  • youth

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