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Adolescents’ Self-Concept Affects Internet Addiction: Moderating Effect of Negative Online Experience and School Type
Author(s): 
Pages: 1103-1108
Year: Issue:  5
Journal: Psychological Science

Keyword:  Internet addictionself-conceptnegative online experienceschool type;
Abstract: Past research on adolescents’ addiction to the Internet has revealed that most addicts are low in self-concept and show withdrawal behavior in social interactions. And among college students who are addicts, there is a reported connection between online experience and addictive behavior. To examine the effects of their self-concept and the negative online experience on addictive behaviors while surfing Internet, we conducted the present research in adolescents, who emerged as the predominant group of the Internet addicts in modern China. We also investigated the possible influence of school environment given the hot issue on "key school policy" proposed right after the establishment of new China in the 1950 s. Participants included 4,094 adolescents(1864 males, 2078 females); 1830 students came from primary schools from grade four to grade six, and 2263 students were from middle schools. We conducted a large online survey on the adolescents’ addictive Internet behaviors across 10 different domestic regions, for instance Guizhou, Chongqing, and Jiangsu, etc.The instruments used in this study included the Differentiation of School and Society Situation for Chinese primary and middle school students, which assessed adolescents’ self-concept, the Negative Online Experience scale and Internet Addiction Diagnostic questionnaire, which measured the degree of addiction to the Internet. The results from the current study revealed that adolescents’ self-concept was significantly negatively related to their degree of Internet addiction(β =-.137, p <.001), and their negative online experience significantly positively predicted their degree of Internet addiction(β =.281, p <.001). With regard to school type, there was also a significant main effect(β =.051, p =.001), indicating that students from key schools were more vulnerable to Internet addiction than those from non-key schools. Moreover, there was a significant three-way interaction among self-concept, negative online experience and school type, B =-.064, t =-2.218, p =.027, η2=.001, such that for students from key schools, addiction to the Internet was negatively predicted by levels of self-concept, but in non-key schools, the moderating effect of negative online experience should be carefully examined. The findings have two implications on the issue of adolescents’ addiction to Internet. First, it suggests that adolescents’ online experience can have huge impacts on their subsequent addicted behavior on the Internet, and more importantly should be attached to an adolescents’ way of handling online interactions, in light of which necessary and efficient guidance may be provided. Second, there is an innovative finding concerning the school environment in which adolescents inhabited. The results demonstrated that students from key schools reported more addictive behaviors than their counterparts, which meant that there is probably some lacking in social activity due to extra burdens in key schools. For interventions, we should focus on different aspects in terms of different school types. Specifically, for key schools, there should be alternative forms of entertainment; and for non-key schools, there should be educational programs on behavioral regulation when surfing the Internet. Despite several limitations, especially with regard to the failure of establishing casual relations in this correlational study, the present work contributes, to a certain extent, to the interpretation and potential intervention of adolescents’ Internet addiction, as well as some insight in the improvement of adolescents’ school environments.
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