Internet-Communication Disorder : It's a Matter of Social Aspects, Coping, and Internet-Use Expectancies

Online communication applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter are some of the most frequently used Internet applications. There is a growing amount of individuals suffering diminished control over their use of online communication applications which leads to diverse negative consequences in offline life. This could be referred to as Internet-communication disorder (ICD). The current study investigates the role of individual characteristics (e.g., psychopathological symptoms, feelings of loneliness) and specific cognitions. In a sample of 485 participants a structural equation model was tested to investigate predictors and mediators which may predict an excessive use. The results emphasize that a higher level of social loneliness and less perceived social support enhance the risk of a pathological use. The effects of psychopathological symptoms (depression and social anxiety) as well as individual characteristics (self-esteem, self-efficacy, and stress vulnerability) on ICD symptoms are mediated by Internet-use expectancies and dysfunctional coping mechanisms. The results illustrate mediation effects which are in line with the theoretical model by Brand et al. (2016). As suggested in the model social aspects seem to be key predictors of ICD symptoms. Further research should investigate convergent and divergent factors of other types of specific Internet-use disorders.


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