Compr Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 3. pii: S0010-440X(19)30019-7. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2019.03.003.
The aim of this study is to investigate parental attitudes, perceived social support, emotion regulation and the accompanying psychiatric disorders seen in adolescents who, having been diagnosed with Internet Addiction (IA), were referred to an outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric clinic.
Of 176 adolescents aged 12-17, 40 were included in the study group. These scored 80 or higher on Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and met Young’s diagnostic criteria for IA based on psychiatric interviews. Forty adolescents who matched them in terms of age, gender and socio-economic level were included in the control group. The Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (K-SADS-PL), the Parenting Style Scale (PSS), the Lum Emotional Availabilty of Parents (LEAP), the Social Support Appraisals Scale for Children (SSAS-C), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20) were applied.
The results showed that the parents of adolescents with IA were more frequently inadequate in acceptance/involvement, supervision/monitoring and they had less emotional availability. The adolescents with IA had less perceived social support, greater difficulty in the identification and verbal expression of their feelings and emotion regulation. Lower parental strictness/supervision, higher alexithymia and the existence of an anxiety disorder were found to be significant predictors of IA. Internet addicted adolescents with comorbid major depressive disorder had higher levels of alexithymia and lower levels of emotional availability in their parents.
It can be concluded that strategies for the prevention and treatment of IA in adolescents should focus on improving the quality of parenting parent-adolescent relationships, enhancing perceived social support and emotion regulation while reducing the associated psychiatric symptoms in adolescents.
KEYWORDS: Adolescent; Emotion regulation; Emotional availability; Internet addiction; Parenting; Social support