Internet function and Internet addictive behavior

Internet function and Internet addictive behavior

Computers in Human Behavior Computers in Human Behavior 22 (2006) 1067–1071 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh Internet function and Internet addicti...

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Computers in Human Behavior Computers in Human Behavior 22 (2006) 1067–1071 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh

Internet function and Internet addictive behavior Shih-Ming Li *, Teng-Ming Chung Department of Psychology, National Chung-Cheng University, Chia-Yi, Taiwan, ROC Available online 9 April 2004

Abstract Ju [Research on personal characteristics, the behavior of using Internet and Internet addiction for Taiwanese college study. Master thesis. Taiwan, 2000] found the Internet function was related to the severity of Internet addiction, and this study explored the relationship between the Internet function and the Internet addictive behavior. Seventy-six college students were included in this study and had completed the Internet use function questionnaire (social function, informational function, leisure function and the virtual emotional function) and the Chinese Internet Addiction Scale (compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance, time management problem and interpersonal and health problems). The study revealed not only the relationship between the social function and the index of the Internet dependence (compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance and the problems in the interpersonal relationship and health), but also the correlation between the information function and the index of the Internet abuse (the problems in the interpersonal relationship and health). We found the social function played the core role in the Internet addictive behavior and the mechanism needs further discussion. Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Internet; Addiction; Interpersonal

1. Introduction The Internet using was popular among the college students and they spent 164 min/day using the Internet on average (Yu, 2001). In Taiwan, 6% of the college students are Internet addicts (Chou & Hsiao, 2000). Therefore, the Internet using problems deserve careful attention. Various epithets are used to describe people who engage in excessive Internet using that results in negative outcomes such as ‘‘Internet addicts’’, ‘‘computer-mediated *

Corresponding author. E-mail address: [email protected] (S.-M. Li).

0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.030

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communication addictive’’, ‘‘problematic Internet use’’ (Caplan, 2002) and ‘‘the pathological Internet use’’ (Davis, 2001). ‘‘The problematic Internet use’’, ‘‘Internet addiction (disorder)’’, ‘‘Internetomania’’ and ‘‘pathological Internet use’’ were the pseudonym terms (Shapira et al., 2003). The ‘‘Internet addictive behavior (disorder)’’ was the clearest conceptualization and appeared with the highest frequency in the related studies (Fung, 2002; Ju, 2000; Yu, 2001). At first, Goldberg (1995) used ‘‘the Internet addiction disorder’’ to represent the human who has some problems following the Internet use, and Young (1996) defined the Internet addiction from the aspects of compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance and related consequences of Internet dependence (Ju, 2000). In Taiwan, Cheng, Weng, Su, Wu, and Yang (2003) followed the concept of Young’s Internet addiction model and designed the Chinese Internet Addiction Scale (CIAS) to assess the Internet addictive behavior among Internet users in Taiwan (Fung, 2002). The subscales of CIAS were following the substance-dependent concept of DSM-IV. The subscales of CIAS not only included the core criteria like tolerance, withdrawal and dysfunction, but also added the impulsive use as an important criterion which was also a criterion in DSM-III-R. In this study, the CIAS was used to assess the Internet addictive behavior. There were already many studies discussed the factors related to the Internet addictive behavior (IAB). The psychopathology factors like depression and anxiety (Yu, 2001), the personality factors, like neurosis, openness and consciousness (Yu, 2001), sensation seeking (Lin & Tsai, 2002), self-esteem (Ju, 2000), attachment (Wang, 2000), the Internet use behavior and gender (Fung, 2002) were related to the IAB. There are many intrapersonal and interpersonal variables relating to the IAB. However, those studies only explored the relationship between the above-referred variables and the Internet use behavior (addictive or problematic use) without further constructing a model to explain the addictive or problematic use. Davis (2001) used the cognitive-behavior model to explain the pathological Internet use (PIU), which was similar to the Internet addictive behavior. According to his model, maladaptive cognition and social isolation played the proximal roles in the pathological Internet use. Caplan (2002) further included 386 college students to explain PIU by using the cognitive-behavior model and he found that one’s preference for computer-mediated social interaction played a role in the etiology, development and outcome of generalized PIU. Caplan (2002) found the interpersonal factor yielded the generalized PIU. Ju (2000) found the Internet function was related to the severity of Internet addiction and the social function (r = 0.62) of Internet for the college student can be the best example. Those studies had revealed that the interpersonal factors play the important role in the Internet behavior spectrum. As the addictive behavior, the substance had functioned as a stuff which cannot be abandoned (DSM-IV). Taking tobacco for an example and we found tobacco had the social, pleasure, empowering, emotional and full-fledged function for the adolescents who had the tobacco dependence. Young (1998) found the Internet dependence user used Internet for social interaction (Ju, 2000). Therefore, the social function of Internet may be an important issue in the Internet addiction study. The interpersonal aspect was important for the Internet users ( Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2003; Cornwell & Lundgren, 2001; Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2003). As shown in those studies, the interpersonal factor played an important role in the IAB. Although those studies disclosed the interpersonal function of Internet and its influence

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on the IAB (Caplan, 2002; Ju, 2000), they did not include the comprehensive concept of the Internet addiction. In this study, we followed the studies of Caplan (2002) and Ju (2000) and take the research further. We found the relationship between Internet use function, especially the interpersonal function, and the Internet addiction. About the Internet addiction, we used the CIAS which included the criteria of the dependence and abuse in DSM-IV to assess the comprehensive IAB. This study explored the relationship between the Internet function and Internet addictive behaviors including the Internet dependence and Internet abuse. 2. Method 2.1. Participants Seventy-six college students were included in this study. The mean age was 19.76 (SD = 1.45) and 71% of the participants were male. They spent 3.27 h/day (SD = 2.04) using the Internet on average. 2.2. Measurement 2.2.1. Internet use function questionnaire The Internet use function questionnaire having high reliability and construct validity included the following four subscales: social function, informational function, leisure function and the virtual emotional function (Ju, 2000). 2.2.2. Chinese Internet addiction scale The CIAS was the scale for the Internet addictive behavior in Taiwan. It included five subscales: compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance, time management problem and interpersonal and health problems. In many studies, the scale showed good internal consistency reliability (Cronbach alpha was 0.78–0.81) and fitting factor structure (Wang, 2000). The DSM-IV criteria included substance abuse and dependence. The subscale of interpersonal and health problems in CIAS were related to the core criterion of substance abuse. The subscale of withdrawal and tolerance in CIAS were related the core criterion of substance dependence. This study will use all of the subscales in CIAS to assess the Internet addictive behavior. The scores of each subscales represents the severity of different problematic Internet behaviors and the total score of the CIAS represents the severity of the overall Internet addictive behavior. 2.3. Procedure Participants were asked to complete the Internet use function questionnaire and the CIAS in class. Participants were informed that the purpose of the study was to examine factors associated with Internet use in advance and they all agreed to join this study. 3. Results In this study, we found that males used the Internet longer than females (t = 2.57, p = 0.014). Males had more problematic Internet addictive behaviors than females (time

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management problem: t = 2.05, p = 0.048, interpersonal and health problems: t = 2.15, p = 0.040) and males used the Internet mostly for recreational function (t = 3.55, p = 0.001) and virtual emotional function (t = 2.31, p = 0.025). About the addiction severity, we found a significance positive correlation between the time management problem and the social function (r = 0.46, r = 0.60). From Table 1, we found there are some positive correlation between the Internet functions and Internet addictive behaviors. The social function was significantly related to all of the subscales of CIAS, i.e., the compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance, time management problem and interpersonal and health problems. The information function was highly related to the interpersonal and health problems. The recreational function and the virtual emotional function were not related to the addictive behaviors. 4. Discussion The social function was the key function of the Internet, which leads to the most severe Internet addiction. On the other words, those who use the Internet for the social function will get relatively more Internet use problems such as the compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance, time management problem and the interpersonal and health problems and they will exhibit more severe Internet addictive behaviors. For those who use the Internet for the information function, they are apt to encounter the interpersonal and health problems. In conclusion, the Internet use function was related to the Internet addiction behavior. Caplan (2002) found the social factor play the important role in the Internet pathological use. In this study, we also found the social function of the Internet was highly positive correlated with the severity of the Internet addictive behaviors. From Table 1, we found the social function of Internet was high correlated with the problematic use such as time management, avoidance emotion and impulsive use. However, the other functions of the Internet including the informational function, recreational function and the virtual emotional function were less related to the problematic use. Therefore, compared with the other functions mentioned in this study, the social function play the relatively important role in the Internet addictive behaviors. The social aspect was important to the Internet use behavior and the social function of the Internet was the core variable to the Internet addictive behavior. The addictive behavior was characterized by the problems of abuse and dependence. In this study, we found the social function and the informational function were highly Table 1 The correlation between the Internet use function and the Internet addictive behavior

Compulsive use Withdrawal Tolerance Time management problem Interpersonal and health problems * **

P < 0.05. P < 0.01.

Social function

Informational function

Leisure function

Virtual emotional function

0.48** 0.51** 0.45** 0.46**

0.11 0.12 0.22 0.01

0.01 0.07 0.10 0.10

0.05 0.17 0.04 0.12

0.49**

0.23*

0.16

0.08

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correlated with the indexes of the Internet dependence and the Internet abuse, respectively. In conclusion, the Internet use functions played different roles in the Internet abuse and dependence. Although the CIAS was used to measure the index of the addictive dependence and abuse in this study, we could not exactly group the subjects under the diagnostic categories of the Internet dependence and Internet abuse. The diagnosis system needs to be further designed to class the subjects under the dependence group or abuse group and to confirm the different functions of these two groups. References Amichai Hamburger, Y., & Ben-Artzi, E. (2003). Loneliness and Internet use. Computer in Human Behavior, 19, 71–80. Caplan, S. E. (2002). Problematic Internet use and psychosocial well-being: development of a theory-based cognitive-behavioral measurement instrument. Computers in Human Behavior, 18, 553–575. Cheng, S. H., Weng, L. J., Su, Y. J., Wu, H. M., & Yang, P. F. (2003). Development of a Chinese Internet Addiction Scale and it’s psychometric study. Chinese Journal of Psychology, 45, 279–294. Chou, C., & Hsiao, M. C. (2000). Internet addiction, usage, gratification, and pleasure experience: the Taiwan college students’ case. Computers & Education, 35, 65–80. Cornwell, B., & Lundgren, D. C. (2001). Love on the Internet: involvement and misrepresentation in romantic relationships in cyberspace vs realspace. Computer in Human Behavior, 17, 197–221. Davis, R. A. (2001). A cognitive-behavioral medel of pathological Internet use. Computers in Human Behavior, 17, 187–195. Fung, Tuz-Wei (2002). Identity, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Relationship between Highly and Midly Internet-addictive Groups. Formosa Journal of Mental Health, 15, 65–76. Goldberg, I. (1995). Internet addiction disorder. . Ju, Mei hsau (2000). Research on personal characteristics, the behavior of using Internet and Internet addiction for Taiwanese college study. Master thesis. Taiwan. Lin, S. S. J., & Tsai, C. C. (2002). Sesation seeking and Internet dependence of Taiwanese high school adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 18, 411–426. Shapira, N. A., Lessig, M. C., Goldsmith, T. D., Szabo, S. T., Lazoritz, M., Gold, M. S., & Stein, D. J. (2003). Problematic Internet use: proposed classification and diagnostic criteria. Depression and Anxiety, 17, 207–216. Wang, Cheng Wha (2000). The personality, interpersonal interaction on the cyberspace and the Internet addictive behavior. Master thesis. Taiwan. Wolak, J., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2003). Escaping or connecting. Characteristics of youth who form close online relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 105–119. Young, K. S. (1996). Internet addiction: the emergence of a new clinical disorder. Paper presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. August 15, Toronto, Canada. Young, K. S. (1998). Internet addiction: the emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 1, 237–244. Yu, S. C. (2001). Internet using behaviors, Internet addiction, and related factors among university students. Master thesis, Taiwan.