Adolescents' over-use of the cyber world - Internet addiction or identity exploration?

  • Israelashvili M
  • Kim T
  • Bukobza G
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In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the Internet can serve as a valuable tool assisting adolescents in pursuing the developmentally-related need for self concept clarity. Participants in the study were 278 adolescents (48.5% girls; 7th-9th graders) who completed questionnaires relating to their levels of Internet use, Internet addiction, ego development, self consciousness, self-concept clarity, and personal demographic data. The study results support the general notion that adolescents' level of self-clarity is negatively related to Internet addiction and over-use. Hence, it is suggested that future studies on adolescents' Internet over-use should use qualitative rather than quantitative conceptualization and measurements in order to properly explore such a behavior and its, either positive or negative, implications. A differentiation is proposed between over-users, heavy users, and addicted users. Namely, over-users and heavy users utilize the Internet for age-related and modern-life-related purposes, and hence should not be labeled as addicted. Implications for the measurement, definition, and treatment of Internet over-use are suggested. © 2011 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescent Internet use
  • Ego clarification
  • Ego development
  • Internet addiction

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  • Moshe Israelashvili

  • Taejin Kim

  • Gabriel Bukobza

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