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The Psychosocial Factors of Elementary School-Aged Children’s Compulsive Internet Use As Reported by Children and Parents

Published: 5 October 2020
Psichologija , Volume 61, pp 51-67; doi:10.15388/psichol.2020.15

Abstract: Children’s electronic media use in the form of Internet has increased over the past decades. The activities that children engage using the Internet can lead to experiencing positive as well as negative outcomes. Recent studies have found that excessive time devoted to the Internet use and behavioral narrowing can lead to Internet addiction (Enagandula et al., 2018) or compulsive Internet use (Meerkerk et al., 2009). This phenomenon can be described as a greater risk of developing excessive online habits, which may result in impairments of individual’s activities of daily living as well as relationships with others. Specific characteristics of these associations, however, have been examined only minimally in young children. The goal of this study was to examine the peculiarities of elementary school-aged children’s Internet use in relation to sociodemographic and relationships with others, as well as possible behavioral and emotional difficulties. The sample consisted of 304 parent-child dyads. All children in the study were second or third grade students (mean age 8.47 years, SD = 0.56), 50.3% were boys. Children and parents completed the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS; Meerkerk et al., 2009) and provided information about time spent on the Internet. Parents provided sociodemographic information and completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997), and children answered questions about their relationships with their parents and peers. The results of the study revealed significant gender differences in compulsivity of the Internet use, i.e. the estimates of boys CIUS – both provided by children and their parents – were significantly higher than girls. In overall, there was good agreement between parental and children’s reports on child’s CIUS, however parents reported higher CIUS scores and longer Internet use than children themselves. Regression analysis revealed that children’s CIUS is predicted (a) from the child’s perspective – by longer Internet time together with lower scores of child prosocial behavior, male gender, less advantaged financial situation in the family, and poorer parent-child relationships; (b) from the parent’s perspective – by longer Internet time, male gender, lower scores of child prosocial behavior, higher scores of behavioral and emotional difficulties together with less advantaged financial family status. The findings of the study are discussed in light of evidence-based practice and research.
Keywords: Children / elementary school / behavioral / Internet use / scores / parent child / school aged / Emotional Difficulties

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