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Compulsive internet use can cause emotional issues in teens

Researchers in Australia said internet addiction in teenagers could lead to difficulty regulating emotions.

 

According to the findings of a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Emotion,’ compulsive internet use has more severe effects on “effortful” forms of emotion regulation such as difficulties pursuing life goals and understanding one’s emotions.

 

The paper is the first longitudinal study to ex amine the connection between internet addiction among teenagers and emotion regulation difficulties, reported the ‘MedicalXpress’. Lead author of the study Dr. James Donald from the University of Sydney Business School, said, “We observed a pattern of behaviour over time that suggests internet addiction leads to emotion regulation problems, but not the reverse.

 

“While it might be difficult for parents to control internet access, our study suggests that parents and schools have an important  role to play in teaching their kids about healthy internet use, monitoring the activities they engage with online, and ensuring they have meaningful and engaging offline activities that provide balance.”

 

Donald is from the Business School’s Discipline of Work & Organisational Studies. Over 2,800 adolescents aged years eight to 11 inclusive, from across 17 Australian high schools took part in the study. The study found no evidence that, among young people, having pre-existing emotion regulation difficulties leads to problems regulating their use of the internet. On his part, Co-author Professor Joseph Ciarrochi, said.

 

“Our research shows compulsive internet use has little impact on less complex emotional processes like self-acceptance and awareness. “A 12-month period of compulsive internet use might not be as harmful as we first thought. However, if this behaviour persists into a teenager’s later years, effects compound, and emotion dysregulation can become a problem.”

 

However, the research also suggested that teaching adolescents general emotion regulation skills, for example through programmes at school, may not be as effective in reducing compulsive internet use as more direct approaches like limiting time spent on the internet.

 

“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, high school students are more reliant on the internet than ever before. The internet is both a site of learning and play, which makes it difficult for parents to monitor,” said Donald

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