Addictive use of social networking sites can be explained by the interaction of Internet use expectancies, Internet literacy, and psychopathological symptoms

Background and Aims: Most people use the Internet in a functional way to achieve certain goals and needs. However, there is an increasing number of people who experience negative consequences like loss of control and distress based on an excessive use of the Internet and its specific online applications. Some approaches postulate similarities with behavioral addictions as well as substance dependencies. They differentiate between a generalized and a specific Internet addiction, such as the pathological use of social networking sites (SIA–SNS). Prior studies particularly identified the use of applications, personal characteristics, and psychopathological symptoms as significant predictors for the development and maintenance of this phenomenon. So far, it remains unclear how psychopathological symptoms like depression and social anxiety interact with individual expectancies of Internet use and capabilities of handling the Internet, summarized as Internet literacy.
Methods: The current study (N = 334) investigated the interaction of these components in a structural equation model.
Results: The results indicate that the effects of depression and social anxiety on SIA–SNS were mediated by Internet use expectancies and self-regulation.
Discussion: Thus, Internet use expectancies seem to be crucial for SIA–SNS, which is in line with prior models.
Conclusions: SNS use may be reinforced by experienced gratification and relief from negative feelings. Individual competences in handling the Internet may be preventive for the development of SIA–SNS.


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