Parental Support Linked to Teen Internet Addiction

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by

Teenagers who feel well-supported by their parents are more likely to report increased internet addiction over time, in a surprise finding from a new University of Sydney Business School study.

The researchers studied nearly 3,000 adolescents across four critical years of development, from Year 8 to Year 11 (age 14–17), to examine the link between social support and compulsive internet use.

Surprisingly, teenagers who reported high social support from parents were more likely to later report compulsive internet use. The teenagers who reported compulsive use were likely to afterward report a decline in social support from teachers.

Compulsive internet use, also referred to as problematic internet use, refers to difficulty regulating internet use and often involves withdrawal symptoms, rumination about being online when not online, and disengagement from daily activities.

Dr. James Donald, lead investigator and senior lecturer in work and organizational studies said the study became even more relevant with the unexpected difficulty of COVID-19 lockdowns seeing young people spending even more time online.

Dr. Donald said the biggest surprise was that parental social support led adolescents to experience greater compulsive internet use over time—which in turn led to less support from teachers.

“When youth saw their parents as being relatively supportive compared to the parents’ own average, they reported more compulsive internet use in the following year. This is contrary to what we predicted but consistent with previous studies which found children who reported low levels of neglect by their parents were more likely to increase in internet addiction over time.”

The study was published in the journal, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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