Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Bonding and Internet Addiction in Adolescent Boys and Girls in Hong Kong

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Bonding and Internet Addiction in Adolescent Boys and Girls in Hong Kong

Article excerpt


Not only is the transition from childhood to adulthood a period of challenges for adolescents. It is also a time when risk behaviour such as delinquency and maladaptive behaviour is commonly manifested by them. According to Catalano et al. (1) and Shek and Sun (2), one possible strategy to promote and foster positive youth development qualities in adolescents is to promote positive youth development qualities such as bonding, resilience, social competence, emotional competence, cognitive competence, moral competence, self-determination, spirituality, self- efficacy, clear and positive identity, belief in the future, recognition for positive behaviour, opportunities for prosocial involvement, and prosocial norms (3). Of these 14 constructs, bonding might be regarded as a basic form of developmental asset as there are views suggesting that attachment functions as a central basis in childhood by offering the child sufficient love and security to grow and to explore the world confidently (4). As poor attachment was postulated to be causally linked to problem behavior (5,6), this paper attempts to explore the relationship between bonding and maladaptive behavior. Among the list of problem behaviors in adolescence, such as drug addiction and risk behavior, Internet addiction has become a growing problem due to the increasingly accessible Internet via computers and other electronic devices such as mobile phones. Besides, as there is a paucity of research studies that examined gender differences in the linkage between bonding and adolescent risk behaviour (7), this study focused on this gap in the scientific literature.

Bonding as a positive youth development construct

According to Lee and Lok (8), bonding refers to "the emotional attachment and commitment an individual makes to social relationships with parents, caregivers, siblings, peers, schoolmates, teachers, romantic partners, and other members of the community throughout the whole life cycle (p. 1)". There is a vast literature showing that social and emotional support in the family, interpersonal, school and community contexts that influence adolescent development (9- 12).

The development of a social bond of attachment and commitment between an adolescent and the significant-others can influence the behaviour of young people (13). Specifically, social bond affects the individual by promoting behavior that is consistent with the beliefs and behavior held by the socializing agents in the socialization process (13). With respect to adolescents, having bonds with healthy peers and adults within one's social environment is especially important to their development. According to Hirschi's (14) social bonding theory, when youths are strongly bonded to their parents, peers and school, committed to conventional types of action, involved in traditional activities, and adhered to the moral values of society, they are less likely to demonstrate delinquency (15). In other words, healthy bonds with adults and peers in both intra- and extra-familial context serve as a protective factor for adolescents.

Throughout their socialization process, children form social bonds with different units, including the family, school, peers, and the community (13). Forming bonds with healthy individuals within these units have various beneficial effects on youth development. For example, within the family unit, having good bonds with one's siblings by being behaviorally and emotionally close to them was found to promote less substance use (16). Similarly, having strong family bonds were also negatively related to the onset of "hard" drug use (17). Within the school unit, longitudinal studies conducted by Catalano et al. (13) revealed that strong school bonding was associated with less alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and delinquent behaviour such as gang membership and school dropout; it also had positive effects on academic performance and social competence. Furthermore, high school students were less likely to be involved in assaults, delinquency and pubic disturbance if they had high levels of social bonds (15). …

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