Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Are Mental Health Effects of Internet Use Attributable to the Web-Based Content or Perceived Consequences of Usage? A Longitudinal Study of European Adolescents
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Show others and affiliations
Number of Authors: 132016 (English)In: JMIR Mental Health, ISSN 2368-7959, Vol. 3, no 3, article id e31Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Adolescents and young adults are among the most frequent Internet users, and accumulating evidence suggests that their Internet behaviors might affect their mental health. Internet use may impact mental health because certain Web-based content could be distressing. It is also possible that excessive use, regardless of content, produces negative consequences, such as neglect of protective offline activities.

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess how mental health is associated with (1) the time spent on the Internet, (2) the time spent on different Web-based activities (social media use, gaming, gambling, pornography use, school work, newsreading, and targeted information searches), and (3) the perceived consequences of engaging in those activities.

Methods: A random sample of 2286 adolescents was recruited from state schools in Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Questionnaire data comprising Internet behaviors and mental health variables were collected and analyzed cross-sectionally and were followed up after 4 months.

Results: Cross-sectionally, both the time spent on the Internet and the relative time spent on various activities predicted mental health (P <. 001), explaining 1.4% and 2.8% variance, respectively. However, the consequences of engaging in those activities were more important predictors, explaining 11.1% variance. Only Web-based gaming, gambling, and targeted searches had mental health effects that were not fully accounted for by perceived consequences. The longitudinal analyses showed that sleep loss due to Internet use (beta =. 12, 95% CI=0.05-0.19, P =. 001) and withdrawal (negative mood) when Internet could not be accessed (beta =. 09, 95% CI=0.03-0.16, P <. 01) were the only consequences that had a direct effect on mental health in the long term. Perceived positive consequences of Internet use did not seem to be associated with mental health at all.

Conclusions: The magnitude of Internet use is negatively associated with mental health in general, but specific Web-based activities differ in how consistently, how much, and in what direction they affect mental health. Consequences of Internet use (especially sleep loss and withdrawal when Internet cannot be accessed) seem to predict mental health outcomes to a greater extent than the specific activities themselves. Interventions aimed at reducing the negative mental health effects of Internet use could target its negative consequences instead of the Internet use itself.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 3, no 3, article id e31
Keywords [en]
problematic Internet use, addictive behavior, Internet, mental health, adolescent health, longitudinal study
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168072DOI: 10.2196/mental.5925ISI: 000414980700005PubMedID: 27417665OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-168072DiVA, id: diva2:1317894
Available from: 2019-05-24 Created: 2019-05-24 Last updated: 2019-05-24Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text in DiVA

Other links

Publisher's full textPubMed

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Westerlund, JoakimMeszaros, GergelyWesterlund, Michael
By organisation
Department of PsychologyDepartment of Media Studies
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

doi
pubmed
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
pubmed
urn-nbn
Total: 103 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf