Internet and Socialization: How Internet use influences online and offline relationships
Authors: Ilaria Buonomo, Isabella Cipriani, Simone Piperno, Ilaria Saddi, Caterina Fiorilli
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Objectives. According to the literature, it is not yet clear whether the digital natives' use of Internet represents a risk or a resource. This study aimed to investigate the relationships between Internet use and the emotional and social offline dynamics. Specifically, we hypothesised that high versus low problematic use of internet was associated with students’ social adjustment. We expected to find that students with high problematic use of internet show more social, behavioural, and emotional problems than students with low problematic use of internet.
Material and methods. Participants were 177 students from 4 middle schools in Central Italy, aged 11 to 15 (50% females). Five questionnaires were administered: the Child Behavior CheckList (CBCL) to measure social, emotional and behavioural problems, the Crozier Shyness Questionnaire to measure shyness and the UCLA Loneliness Scale to measure loneliness. For internet misuse we used the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale and 3 questions to assess activities and time spent on the internet.
Results. The higher the preference for online interactions of the internet adopted by students to regulate mood, the higher the internalization problems recorded. Moreover, the higher preference for online social interactions adopted by students and the negative outcomes due to the Internet use, the higher the externalization problems displayed.
Conclusions. Consistently with the literature our results seem to confirm the negative effect of the internet misuse on socio-emotional features. We discuss the relationship between internet use (related to mood regulation, negative social consequences and preference for online interactions) and social-emotional adjustment.