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Social constraints associated with excessive internet use in adolescents: the role of family, school, peers, and neighbourhood

Abstract

Objectives

Excessive internet use (EIU) has been studied predominantly within the context of individual risk factors. Less attention has been paid to social factors, especially in a fashion complex enough to include the multiple domains of adolescent socialization. This study examined the relationship between EIU and constraints within family, school, peer groups, and neighbourhoods, while controlling for emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Methods

This study was based on survey data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, which was conducted in Slovakia in 2018. The sample of representative adolescents totalled 8400 (mean age: 13.44 years; SDage = 1.33; 50.9% boys).

Results

Multiple-step linear regression revealed that, after controlling for sociodemographic factors and emotional and behavioural difficulties, peer problems had the least effect, while the constraints related to family and neighbourhood stood out as especially problematic. Combined variables explained 20% variance of EIU.

Conclusions

Social constraints proved to be important factors in adolescent EIU. The important role of a problematic neighbourhood is a novel finding and suggests that it should be targeted in prevention.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Support Agency under Contract No. APVV-18-0070 and by Masaryk University (MUNI/A/1297/2019).

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Correspondence to Lukas Blinka.

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The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty at the Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice (16N/2017).

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This article is part of the special issue "Adolescent health in Central and Eastern Europe".

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Blinka, L., Šablatúrová, N., Ševčíková, A. et al. Social constraints associated with excessive internet use in adolescents: the role of family, school, peers, and neighbourhood. Int J Public Health 65, 1279–1287 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01462-8

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Keywords

  • Excessive internet use
  • Internet addiction
  • Adolescents
  • Social constraints
  • Problematic neighbourhood