Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Nov;17(11):714-719.
Problematic Internet use-frequently called Internet addiction or compulsive use-represents an increasingly widespread problem among adolescents.
The objective of this study was to analyze the temporal and reciprocal relations between the presence of depressive symptoms and various components of problematic Internet use (i.e., the preference for online relationships, use of the Internet for mood regulation, deficient self-regulation, and the manifestation of negative outcomes).
Consequently, a longitudinal design was employed with two times separated by a 1 year interval. The sample consisted of 699 adolescents (61.1% girls) between 13 and 17 years of age.
The results indicated that depressive symptoms at time 1 predicted an increase in preference for online relationships, mood regulation, and negative outcomes after 1 year. In turn, negative outcomes at time 1 predicted an increase in depressive symptoms at time 2.
These results entail several practical implications for the design of prevention programs and the treatment of problematic Internet use.