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Int J Psychol. 2011 Aug;46(4):288-98. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.541256.

Psychosocial correlates of internet use among Italian students.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy. silvia.casale@unifi.it

Abstract

Davis (2001) introduced a cognitive-behavioral theory of generalized pathological internet use (GPIU) that attempts to model the etiology, development, and outcomes associated with PIU. According to this model, pre-existing psychosocial problems (depression, loneliness, or low levels of social support) predispose an individual to GPIU cognitions, behaviors, and negative outcomes. An exploratory study intended to investigate whether GPIU is associated with psychosocial health (loneliness, depression, self-esteem, and shyness), also taking account of types of internet services used, was conducted in a sample of Italian undergraduate students. A cross-sectional and descriptive correlational design was used. The participants were 157 undergraduate students (34 male and 123 female) enrolled at The University of Florence. The results revealed a stronger correlation between the frequency of use of communicative services (as opposed to leisure or informational services) and GPIU levels. Among services, the most significant predictor of GPIU was the frequency of use of chat rooms and "adult" websites. All psychosocial health variables were correlated with GPIU, with the exception of shyness; however, general loneliness was the only significant predictor of GPIU. Depression and self-esteem were not significant predictors of GPIU. These results are consistent with the assumption that GPIU is related to the social aspect of the internet (e.g., online chatting) and arises from the unique communicative environment found online. In accordance with recent studies, social wellbeing (i.e. loneliness) seems to play a greater role than psychological health in deriving negative effects from internet use.

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