ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (12): 1345-1354.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01345

Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Development of Pathological Internet Use and Its Relationship with Self-Esteem among Junior High School Students: The Moderating Role of Classmate Relationship

ZHANG Guohua;DAI Bibing;LEI Li   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325035, China) (2 Institute of Psychology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300070, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Remin University of China, Beijing 100872, China) (4 School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China)
  • Received:2012-02-28 Published:2013-12-25 Online:2013-12-25
  • Contact: LEI Li


In recent years, the Internet has been developing at an unimaginably high speed, imposing an increasingly important impact on our daily life. It's worth noting that the number of adolescent Internet users is soaring fast. The Internet provides people not only with many benefits, but also with a lot of negative outcomes, such as online pornography, Internet gambling and fraud. Excessive Internet use may also lead to “Internet addiction” (or commonly called Pathological Internet Use, PIU). There are several common characteristics in the current studies of Pathological Internet Use, among which most sampled college students more than other ages of population, rarely concerning about the adolescents who have just entered adolescence and engaged in Internet use for a short time. Besides, most of the recent studies of Pathological Internet Use were based on cross-sectional study design, but few on longitudinal study design. By longitudinal study design, the developmental tendencies of adolescents’ Pathological Internet Use and its influence on the individual development can be better revealed, and the effects of relevant psychological variables can be investigated so as to contribute to the prevention and intervention of adolescents’ Pathological Internet Use. Based on the analysis above, this study sampled adolescents who have just begun their junior high school study as our subjects to investigate their developmental tendency of Pathological Internet Use and its relationship with self-esteem, and to explore the moderating role of classmate relationship between self-esteem and Pathological Internet Use through longitudinal design and Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM). We suppose that junior high school students’ level of Pathological Internet Use increased gradually with the growing use of the Internet, teenagers with higher self-esteem are more unlikely to be involved in Pathological Internet Use, and classmate relationship can relieve Pathological Internet Use of adolescents with lower self-esteem. This study employed Self-esteem Scale and Adolescent Pathological Internet Use Scale to 123 grade one junior high school students in Beijing, in a period of 18 months with 6 times of investigations. Besides, Classmate Relationship Subscale of Class Environment Questionnaire was used to examine their classmate relationship. The results were as followed: (1) in the period of 18 months, the level of Pathological Internet Use among junior high school students presents a rising trend significantly. There are significant differences between the initial level and developmental tendency of Pathological Internet Use (χ2=391.51, p﹤0.01; χ2=174.49, p﹤0.01). The higher the initial level is, more gently the rising trend will be (τ10 is -0.22); (2) self-esteem has a significantly negative prediction on adolescents’ Pathological Internet Use (γ20=-0.54, p﹤0.05); (3) individual with better classmate relationship has a lower initial level of Pathological Internet Use (γ02=-1.16, p﹤0.05). But from the perspective of the growing trend of Pathological Internet Use, better classmate relationship weakened the protective role of self-esteem to Pathological Internet Use (γ22=0.09, p﹤0.05). The research showed that the level of adolescents’ Pathological Internet Use increased gradually in their junior high school years, self-esteem played a protective role in the development of adolescents’ Pathological Internet Use while better classmate relationship is apt to aggravate the protective role of self-esteem in the development Pathological Internet Use.

Key words: junior high school students, Pathological Internet Use, self-esteem, classmate relationship, Hierarchical Linear Model