Problematic Internet Use and Well-Being With Recommendations for the U.S. Air Force (2015)

Joshua Breslau, Eyal Aharoni, Eric R. Pedersen, Laura L. Miller



To help the Air Force understand the implications of the Internet, social media, and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for Airmen’s social support networks, mental health, suicide prevention programs, and outreach, RAND conducted a survey of 3,479 active-duty, guard, and reserve Airmen in 2012. Using survey responses weighted to represent the gender, age group, component and officer/enlisted composition of the force, RAND found that 6 percent of the sample scored on the negative end of the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale 2 (GPIUS2) (Caplan, 2010, pp. 1089–1097). This 15-item scale measures indicators of undesirable behavior such as turning to the Internet when feeling down or lonely, thinking obsessively about going online, having difficulty controlling Internet use, and experiencing adverse life events due to Internet use. Among Airmen, negative GPIUS2 scores were significantly correlated with poor self-rated mental health, depressed mood, and loneliness. If the survey results are representative, more than 30,000 Airmen may be struggling with unhealthy patterns of Internet use. These findings are documented in a previous RAND report, entitled, Information and Communication Technologies To Promote Social And Psychological Well- Being In The Air Force: A 2012 Survey Of Airmen (Miller, Martin, Yeung, Trujillo, and Timmer, 2014).