The relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication

Bonetti, Luigi, Campbell, Marilyn, & Gilmore, Linda (2010) The relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 13, pp. 279-285.

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Children and adolescents now communicate online to form and/or maintain relationships with friends, family, and strangers. Relationships in “real life” are important for children’s and adolescents’ psychosocial development; however, they can be difficult for those who experience feelings of loneliness and/or social anxiety. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in usage of online communication patterns between children and adolescents with and without self-reported loneliness and social anxiety. Six hundred and twenty-six students aged between 10-16 years completed a survey on the amount of time they spent communicating online, the topics they discussed, the partners they engaged with, and their purposes for communicating over the Internet. Participants were administered a shortened version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale and an abbreviated sub-scale of the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A). Additionally, age and gender differences in usage of the aforementioned online communication patterns were examined across the entire sample. Findings revealed that children and adolescents who self-reported being lonely communicated online significantly more frequently about personal things and intimate topics than did those who did not self-report being lonely. The former were motivated to use online communication significantly more frequently to compensate for their weaker social skills to meet new people. Results suggest that Internet usage allows them to fulfill critical needs of social interactions, self-disclosure, and identity exploration. Future research, however, should explore whether or not the benefits derived from online communication may also facilitate lonely children’s and adolescents’ offline social relationships.

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ID Code: 28311
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: adolescents, children, Internet, social anxiety, loneliness
DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0215
ISSN: 1094-9313
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Developmental Psychology and Ageing (170102)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers
Copyright Statement: This is a copy of an article published in the [CyberPsychology and Behavior] © [2010] [copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.]; [CyberPsychology and Behavior] is available online at:
Deposited On: 29 Oct 2009 23:50
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2015 05:52

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