The role of online social capital in the relationship between Internet use and self-worth

  • Yida ZhaiEmail author


This study examines the effect of the Internet on feelings of self-worth from a social capital perspective. Based on a survey among 800 undergraduate students from China, we find that browsing web pages and using emails do not have positive effects on the formation of online social capital, whereas social media use has significant effects. All four types of Internet use surveyed in this study do not significantly correlate with self-worth. The findings provide supporting evidence for an indirect effect of Internet use on people’s self-worth. Social capital generated from online interactions improves feelings of self-worth. The present study contributes to the discussion on the potential benefits of online social capital for mental health and highlights the online interactions as important as in-person interactions, which is useful to those who design web-based interventions.


Internet use Online social interactions Social capital Self-worth Mental health Social trust 



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 71874109). The data used in this article are from the second wave of the Asian Student Survey (ASS) administered by Professor Shigeto Sonoda of the University of Tokyo and his research group. The author would like to thank Professor Shigeto Sonoda for his kind permission to use the ASS data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International and Public Affairs, Xin Jian HallShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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