The Effects of Parental Monitoring and Leisure Boredom on Adolescents' Internet Addiction

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Internet has become an integral part of adolescents' lives because it provides access to the world (Subrahmanyam & Lin, 2007); however, over involvement in the Internet is prevalent across different campuses (Chou, Condron, & Belland, 2005). Actually, the Internet is an environment that could be abused by anyone (Griffiths, 1998), particularly by adolescents due to their lower cognitive and self-control ability. Excessive use of the Internet is often defined as an addiction, a psychological dependence regardless of the type of online activity (Kandell, 1988). Overuse ofthe Internet may result in several negative consequences for adolescents, for example, poor school work, expulsion, social isolation, and disrupted daily routines (Brenner, 1997; Scherer, 1997; Young, 1998). Further, adolescent Internet addicts tend to have substance use experience (Ko et al., 2006) and engage in risky Internet behavior such as cybersex or face-to-face meeting with someone first encountered online (Liau, Khoo, & Ang, 2005). Therefore, identification of causes of Internet addiction is important so that preventive or remedial strategies can be developed.

In general, past studies have used social or psychological variables to explain or predict Internet addiction. For instance, novelty seeking and harm avoidance are positively correlated, and reward dependence are negatively correlated with Internet addiction (Ko et al., 2006). Sensation, adventure, and excitement seeking are negatively associated with Internet addiction (Lavin et al., 1999). Pleasure seeking is positively correlated with Internet addiction (Chou & Hsiao, 2000). Moreover, time online is also important in determining Internet addiction. Internet addicts spend much more time online than do non-addicts (Chen & Chou, 1999; Young, 1998).

Internet addicts often encounter time-management problems (Chou, Condron, & Belland, 2005), and this may be a result of unbalanced time allocation among several leisure activities--both physical and virtual. Recent leisure literature indicates that the perception of boredom is critical in predicting leisure activity involvement and satisfaction, and consequent life satisfaction (Russell, 1987). Boredom refers to a negative state of mind that reflects an inner conflict between expected optimal and perceived experiences. Boredom arises when individuals feel that they cannot escape a meaningless routine, when they are constrained by too many obligations or when leisure time is faced by those who do not have sufficient leisure skills (Iso-Ahola & Weissinger, 1990). Understanding leisure boredom during adolescence is imperative because boredom is compounded by concomitant developmental processes (Caldwell, Darling, Payne, & Dowdy, 1999). Boredom avoidance is one of the major motivations for using the Internet (Lin & Yu, 2008). Put differently, when adolescents actively participate in pleasurable leisure activities and they are satisfied with these activities, psychological needs (e.g., sensation seeking and pleasure seeking) can be fulfilled in the real world. Thus, if leisure time is perceived to be boring and fails to satisfy expected optimal experience, adolescents may be motivated to seek another alternative--the Internet.

Additionally, during the transitional and developmental period of adolescence, it is preferable that they be supervised or guided in their leisure activities time by their parents. Parents can alter maladaptive behaviors of adolescents; monitoring can play a central role in family management (Patterson & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1984). The time-disruption problem of adolescent Internet addicts may be related to the amount of unsupervised time they spend alone. Specifically, adequate parental monitoring can prevent adolescents from becoming overinvolved in the Internet and also facilitate other leisure experiences. Higher levels of adolescents' perceived monitoring by parents are associated with lower levels of boredom in leisure time (Caldwell, Darling, Payne, & Dowdy, 1999). …