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Relational consequences of compulsive Internet use

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Relational consequences of compulsive Internet use. Presented at 58th Annual Conference of the …

Relational consequences of compulsive Internet use. Presented at 58th Annual Conference of the
International Communication Association
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 22-26, 2008.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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  • 1. Relationship Quality and Compulsive Internet Use Peter Kerkhof Dept. Communication Science Catrin Finkenauer Dept. Social Psychology
  • 2.
    • The majority of laptop users (57%) take their laptop to bed, according to research by telecom provider KPN among 500 users. Always being online is top priority for laptop users, mainly for reading the news and checking e-mail.
    A recent press release:
  • 3.
  • 4. Internet Use & Relationships
    • Main question: Does Internet use affect marital relationships (and vice versa)?
      • The Netherlands: 14.544.400 Internet users (88.4%)*, online av. 27 hrs. p. month, 3131 page visits**
      • Internet: closer ties to those not present, weaker ties to those present
      • Compulsive Internet Use (CIU): averse social effects
        • ‘ use of the Internet that creates psychological, social, school, and/or work difficulties in a person’s life’ (Beard & Wolf, 2001, p. 378)
    • * http://www.internetworldstats.com/eu/nl.htm ** www.comscore.com
  • 5. Compulsive Internet use
    • Meerkerk (2007): Games, chatting, and sexual Internet use as determinants of CIU
    • Related to loneliness, social anxiety, preference for online (vs. real life) interactions, depression, neuroticism
    • Only self reported relationship effects, almost no actual relationships, almost no longitudinal studies
  • 6. CIU and Relationship Quality
    • Possible causal paths:
      • CIU Relationship Quality
        • Time as a limited resource
        • Running into relationship alternatives
        • Unable to stop even when needed
      • Relationship Quality CIU
        • Escapism, mood management
        • Looking for relationship alternatives
        • Lower effort for relationship maintenance
  • 7. Data
    • VU Panel Marriage & Well-being
    • 199 newlywed couples, first two waves, both partners, visited at home by interviewers
    • Measures:
      • Compulsive Internet Use (Meerkerk, 2007)
      • Frequency of Internet Use (days per week, hours per day for private use)
      • Controls: neuroticism, depression
  • 8. Measures
    • Indicators Relationship Quality
      • Marital Satisfaction (30-item DAS)
      • Relationship Commitment
      • Relationship specific Loneliness
      • Intimacy & Passion (PRQC, 6 items)
      • Trust in Partner
      • Closeness (Aron circles)
  • 9. Data
    • Communication within relationship
      • Responsiveness
      • Solicitation
      • Smoothness
    • Analyses:
      • Low vs. high Frequency of Internet Use
      • Actor effects: within partner correlations + beta’s (controlled for neuroticism & depression)
        • Longitudinal effects ( t 1- t 2)
      • Cross partner effects (APIM)
  • 10. Correlations /beta’s CIU – Relationship Quality ( t 1, high FIU)
  • 11. Correlations /beta’s CIU – Relationship Quality ( t 1, high FIU)
  • 12. Effects over time (beta’s, controlled for t 1 DV)
    • Husbands:
        • CIU  Δ commitment ( β= -.25)
        •  Δ loneliness ( β= .17)
        •  Δ marital satisfaction ( β= -.28)
        •  Δ smoothness ( β= -.25)
        •  Δ closeness ( β= -.24)
        • Solicitation  Δ CIU ( β= -.20)
    • Wives:
        • CIU  Δ solicitation ( β= -.27)
        • Commitment  Δ CIU ( β= -.20)
        • Passion  Δ CIU ( β= -.16)
  • 13. Partner effects (APIM analyses)
  • 14. Conclusions
    • Combining frequent & compulsive Internet use is associated with lower scores on several indicators of relationship quality
      • Only actor effects
      • More among men (CIU more prevalent among men)
      • Different underlying mechanisms /causal path, but more support for CIU causing lower relationship quality
      • Replicated among gay men
    • Next step:
      • Different kinds of Internet use
      • Social sharing of Internet experiences
      • Direct measurement of underlying mechanisms

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