Digital Youth pp 123-142 | Cite as

Internet Use and Well-Being: Physical and Psychological Effects

  • Kaveri Subrahmanyam
  • David Šmahel
Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


The second part of the book starting with this chapter looks at the practical implications of young people’s interactions with technology. This chapter takes an in-depth look into how adolescents’ online activities influence their well-being. First, it suggests some of the different pathways by which the Internet might mediate well-being. Then, it examines the direct and indirect effects of technology on physical well-being. Some of the direct effects include the potential for physical injuries, physiological arousal; indirect effects include the relation between technology use and obesity and sleep patterns. In the final section, the chapter describes extant research on the relation between Internet use and psychological well-being and the factors (e.g., user characteristics, kind of online activity) that mediate this relation. Two other important issues that we address are short-term effects and the effect of negative interactions on well-being. Throughout, we emphasize the important of education to ensure that youth use technology in ways that will enhance their well-being.


Social Capital Social Networking Site Online Communication Physiological Arousal Chat Room 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 113–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353–359.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bargh, J. A., McKenna, K. Y. A., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2002). Can you see the real me? “Activation and expression of the true self” on the Internet. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bessière, K., Kiesler, S., Kraut, R. E., & Boneva, B. (2008). Effects of Internet use and social resources on changes in depression. Information Community and Society, 11, 47–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brage, D., Meredith, W., & Woodward, J. (1993). Correlates of loneliness among midwestern adolescents. Adolescence, 28, 685–693.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brasington, R. (1990). Nintendinitis. New England Journal of Medicine, 322, 1473–1474.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brennan, T. (1982). Loneliness at adolescence. In L. A. Peplau & D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research and therapy (pp. 269–290). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Bukowski, W. M., Newcomb, A. F., & Hartup, W. W. (1996). The company they keep: Friendships in childhood and adolescence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Carskadon, M. A., Vieira, C., & Acebo, C. (1993). Association between puberty and delayed phase preference. Sleep, 16, 258–262.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). Overweight among U.S. children and adolescents. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
  11. Degirmencioglu, S. M. (1995). Changes in adolescents’ friendship networks: Do they matter? Detroit, MI: Wayne State University.Google Scholar
  12. Eijnden, R., Meerkerk, G. J., Vermulst, A. A., Spijkerman, R., & Engels, R. (2008). Online communication, compulsive Internet use, and psychosocial well-being among adolescents: A longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 44, 655–665.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fredriksen, K., Reddy, R., Way, N., & Rhodes, J. (2004). Sleepless in Chicago: Tracking the effects of sleep loss over the middle school years. Child Development, 74, 84–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenfield, P. M., & Subrahmanyam, K. (2003). Online discourse in a teen chatroom: New codes and new modes of coherence in a visual medium. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 713–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gross, E. F. (2009). Logging on, bouncing back: An experimental investigation of online communication following social exclusion. Developmental Psychology, 45, 1787–1793.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gross, E. F., Juvonen, J., & Gable, S. L. (2002). Internet use and well-being in adolescence. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the self-perception profile for children. Unpublished manuscript, University of Denver, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  19. Hartup, W. W. (1996). The company they keep: Friendships and their developmental significance. Child Development, 67, 1–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Helliwell, J. F., & Putnam, R. D. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 359, 1435–1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Iglowstein, I., Jenni, O. G., Molinari, L., & Largo, R. H. (2003). Sleep duration from infancy to adolescence: Reference values and generational trends. Pediatrics, 111, 302–307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2004). The role of media in childhood obesity. Retrieved [Date] from
  23. Kef, S., & Dekovic, M. (2004). The role of parental and peer support in adolescents well-being: A comparison of adolescents with and without a visual impairment. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 453–466.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Krackhardt, D. (1994). The strength of strong ties: The importance of philos in organizations. In N. Nohria & R. Eccles (Eds.), Networks and organizations: Structure, form, and action (pp. 216–239). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  25. Kraut, R. E., Kiesler, S., Boneva, B., Cummings, J., Helgeson, V., & Crawford, A. (2002). Internet paradox revisited. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 49–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kraut, R. E., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukopadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist, 53, 1017–1031.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kunkel, D. (2001). Children and television advertising. In D. Singer & J. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 375–393). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  28. Mastro, D. E., Eastin, M. S., & Tamborini, R. (2002). Internet search behaviors and mood alterations: A selective exposure. Media Psychology, 4, 157–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mazalin, D., & Moore, S. (2004). Internet use, identity development and social anxiety among young adults. Behavior Change, 21, 90–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mendels, P. (1999). A warning on class computers. New York Times, p. 16.Google Scholar
  31. Mesch, G. S. (2001). Social relationships and Internet use among adolescents in Israel. Social Science Quarterly, 82, 329–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mesch, G. S. (2003). The family and the Internet: The Israeli case. Social Science Quarterly, 84, 1039–1050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nelson, M. C., Neumark-Stzainer, D., Hannan, P. J., Sirard, J. R., & Story, M. (2006). Longitudinal and secular trends in physical activity and sedentary behavior during adolescence. Pediatrics, 118, e1627–e1634.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nie, N. H., & Hillygus, D. S. (2002). Where does Internet time come from? A reconnaissance. IT & Society, 1, 1–20.Google Scholar
  35. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., & Flegal, K. M. (2008). High body mass index for age among us children and adolescents, 2003–2006. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 299, 2401–2405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raja, S. N., McGee, R., & Stanton, W. R. (1992). Perceived attachments to parents and peers and psychological well-being in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 21, 471–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosenberg, M. (1986). Self-concept from middle childhood through adolescence. In J. Suls & A. Greenwald (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. 3, pp. 107–136). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Sarason, B. R., Sarason, I. G., & Pierce, G. R. (1990). Social support: An interactional view. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  39. Schneider, M., Dunton, G. F., & Cooper, D. M. (2007). Media use and obesity in adolescent females. Obesity, 15, 2328–2335.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. A. C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 434–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stettler, N., Singer, T., & Sutter, P. (2004). Electronic games and environmental factors associated with childhood obesity in Switzerland. Obesity Research, 12, 896–903.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Storch, E. A., Brassard, M. R., & Masia-Warner, C. L. (2003). The relationship of peer victimization to social anxiety and loneliness in adolescence. Child Study Journal, 33, 1–18.Google Scholar
  43. Storr, E. F., de Vere Beavis, F. O., & Stringer, M. D. (2007). Case notes: Texting tenosynovitis. New Zealand Medical Journal, 120, 107–108.Google Scholar
  44. Subrahmanyam, K. (2010). Technology and physical and social health. In P. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGaw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (Vol. 8, pp. 112–118). Oxford: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Subrahmanyam, K., & Greenfield, P. M. (2008). Online communication and adolescent relationships. Future of Children, 18, 119–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Subrahmanyam, K., Greenfield, P. M., Kraut, R. E., & Gross, E. F. (2001). The impact of computer use on children’s and adolescents’ development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 22, 7–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Subrahmanyam, K., Kraut, R. E., Greenfield, P. M., & Gross, E. F. (2000). The impact of home computer use on children’s activities and development. The Future of Children, 10, 123–144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Subrahmanyam, K., & Lin, G. (2007). Adolescents on the net: Internet use and well-being. Adolescence, 42, 659–677.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Sun, P., Unger, J. B., Palmer, P. H., Gallaher, P., Chou, C. P., Baexconde-Garbanati, L., et al. (2005). Internet accessibility and usage among urban adolescents in Southern California: Implications for web-based heath research. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 8, 441–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sundar, S. S., & Wagner, C. B. (2002). The world wide wait: Exploring physiological and behavioral effects of download speed. Media Psychology, 4, 173–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tanner, J. M. (1978). Growth at adolescence (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  52. Tarokh, L., & Carskadon, M. A. (2008). Sleep in adolescents. In L. R. Squire (Ed.), Encyclopedia of neuroscience (pp. 1015–1022). Oxford: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  53. Teenage Research Unlimited. (2007). Tech abuse in teen relationships study. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from
  54. Tynes, B. M. (2005). Children, adolescents and the culture of online hate. In N. E. Dodd, D. E. Singer, & R. F. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of children, culture and violence (pp. 267–289). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  55. Tynes, B. M. (2007a). Internet safety gone wild? Sacrificing the educational and psychosocial benefits of online social environments. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 575–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tynes, B.M. (2007b). Role taking in online “classrooms“: What adolescents are learning about race and ethnicity. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1312–1320.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tynes, B. M., Reynolds, L., & Greenfield, P. M. (2004). Adolescence, race, and ethnicity on the Internet: A comparison of discourse in monitored vs. unmonitored chat rooms. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25, 667–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Valas, H. (1999). Students with learning disabilities and low-achieving students: Peer acceptance, loneliness, self-esteem, and depression. Social Psychology of Education, 3, 173–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Valkenburg, P. M. (2004). Children’s responses to the screen: A media psychological approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  60. Valkenburg, P. M., Peter, J., & Schouten, A. P. (2006). Friend networking sites and their relationship to adolescents’ well-being and social self-esteem. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9, 584–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Van den Bulck, J. (2003). Text messaging as a cause of sleep interruption in adolescents, evidence from a cross-sectional study. Journal of Sleep Research, 12, 263.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van den Bulck, J. (2004). Television viewing, computer game playing, and Internet use and self-reported time to bed and time out of bed in secondary-school children. Sleep, 27, 101–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Van Den Bulck, J. (2007). Adolescent use of mobile phones for calling and for sending text messages after lights out: Results from a prospective cohort study with a one-year follow-up. Sleep, 30, 1220–1223.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Woodward, J., & Frank, B. (1988). Rural adolescent loneliness and adolescent coping strategies. Adolescence, 23, 559–565.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Ybarra, M. L., Alexander, C., & Mitchell, K. J. (2005). Depressive symptomatology, youth Internet use, and online interactions: A national survey. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 9–18.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhang, J., Fraser, S., Lindsay, J., Clarke, K., & Mao, Y. (1998). Age-specific patterns of factors related to fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes focus on young and elderly drivers. Public Health, 112, 289–295.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Social StudiesMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations