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THE RELATIONSHIP OF LONELINESS

AND SOCIAL ANXIETY WITH
CHILDREN’S AND ADOLESCENTS’
ONLINE COMMUNICATION

Luigi Bonetti, BEdStud

Principal Supervisor: Dr. Marilyn Campbell
Associate Supervisor: Dr. Linda Gilmore

Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Education (Research)
School of Learning and Professional Studies
Faculty of Education
QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
2009

Keywords
Adolescents, children, friends, Internet, loneliness, motives, online communication,
relationships, social anxiety, well-being.

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1998). social relationships can be difficult for those who experience feelings of loneliness and social anxiety. whereas social anxiety was assessed with a sub-scale of the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (La Greca & Lopez. However. A one-way ANOVA and chi-square tests were conducted to evaluate the aforementioned differences between these groups. the topics they discussed. The sample was divided into four groups of children and adolescents: 220 were “non-socially anxious and non-lonely”. and their purposes of online communication. The results indicated that children and adolescents who reported being lonely used online communication differently from those who did not report being lonely. loneliness was measured with a shortened version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) developed by Russell (1996). iv . and 159 were “lonely and socially anxious”. The current study aimed to replicate and extend research conducted by Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). Further analyses on gender differences within lonely children and adolescents revealed that boys and girls communicated online more frequently with different partners. but also to compensate for their weak social skills and to meet new people. Following Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). future longitudinal studies combining a quantitative with a qualitative approach would better address the relationship between Internet use and psychosocial well-being. Six hundred and twenty-six students aged 10-16 years completed a questionnaire survey about the amount of time they engaged in online communication. 107 were “lonely but not socially anxious”. The findings also suggested the need for further exploration of how such troubled children and adolescents can use the Internet beneficially. Essentially. 139 were “socially anxious but not lonely”.Abstract Children and adolescents are now using online communication to form and/or maintain relationships with strangers and/or friends. who they communicated with. and social interactions. the former communicated online more frequently about personal things and intimate topics. identity exploration. Relationships in real life are important for children and adolescents in identity formation and general development. by investigating differences in online communication patterns between children and adolescents with and without selfreported loneliness and social anxiety. It was concluded that for these vulnerable individuals online communication may fulfil needs of self-disclosure. However.

........ 8 Social Anxiety .......... and Purposes of Online Communication 43 Topics.................................................................................................................... 52 v .......................... 50 Partners........................................................................................ 21 Research Questions..... 22 Chapter III: Method ..................................... and Purposes of Online Communication ......................................................................................... 8 Loneliness ................................................................. 24 Participants ......................................................... 49 Gender Differences in Topics.................................................. 43 Age Differences in Topics................................................. 1 Background to the Study .................................... 44 Partners................................................................... 24 Measures .................................................. 1 Computer-Mediated Communication as a Means to Form and Maintain Relationships through Self-Disclosure.......................................................... 43 Age Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication ............................................................................................................... 6 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................................................................................... 2 The Internet and Psychological Well-Being: Loneliness and Social Anxiety ...................................................................................................................................... 40 Age Differences in Patterns of Online Communication........................................................................................................................................................... 8 Loneliness and Social Anxiety in Children’s and Adolescents’ Social Life.... 37 Frequency and Duration of Online Communication ..................... 39 Purposes of Online Communication ............................................................................................. 16 Children’s and Adolescents’ Online Social Life.................... 7 Chapter II: Literature Review................................................. 3 Statement of the Problem ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 Outline of the Study.................................................................. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 34 Data Analysis.. 49 Gender Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication ........... 5 Purpose of the Study ........................................................................................................ ........................................................ 12 Children’s and Adolescents’ Use of Internet Communication .........Table of Contents Chapter I: Introduction...................................................................................................................... 37 Partners of Online Communication ......... 46 Purposes.......................................... 18 Lonely and Socially Anxious Children and Adolescents Communicate Online .. 26 Procedure .... 37 Topics of Online Communication ............................................................. 1 Diffusion of Computer-Mediated Communication............................... 37 Patterns of Online Communication: General Descriptives ....................... 47 Gender Differences in Patterns of Online Communication ............ 6 Research Questions................................................................................................ Partners....................... ........................................ 24 Research Design ........................................ ................................................ 35 Chapter IV: Results.......................... ................................................... Partners........................................................................ 50 Topics..........................................................................

...... Partners.................................................... 76 References ..........................................................................................................................Purposes............................................ 65 Purposes............................................................................ 64 Topics............................. 67 Age Differences in Patterns of Online Communication ................. 56 Group Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication ..................................................................... 79 Appendix A.............................................................. 65 Chapter V: Discussion........................................................................................................ 68 The Relationship of Loneliness and Social Anxiety with Children’s and Adolescents’ Online Communication ........................................................................................................................................................................ 57 Topics........................................................................... 58 Partners................................................................................................ 63 Age and Gender Differences in Topics...... 70 Limitations and Future Directions................... 60 Purposes...................................................................................................................................................... 74 Conclusion .................................................................... Partners....................................................................................................................... 56 Group Differences in Topics.......... and Purposes of Online Communication within the Lonely But Not Socially Anxious plus the Lonely And Socially Anxious Groups.......................................................................... 67 Gender Differences in Patterns of Online Communication................................................................................................................................................... 93 vi ................................................................ and Purposes of Online Communication ..................................... 61 Age and Gender Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication within the Lonely But Not Socially Anxious plus the Lonely And Socially Anxious Groups.................................................... 53 Relationships among Loneliness/Social Anxiety and Online Communication .......................... 64 Partners..................................

..................................................................... 58 Table 17.................................. 54 Table 15....................... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online Communication Partners...... 25 Table 2.................................. 53 Table 14...................... 31 Table 6..................................... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in terms of Online Communication Partners ................ Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in terms of Online Communication Topics............................................... Distribution of Scores for Amount of Online Communication (gender)......... 95% Confidence Intervals of Pairwise Differences in Mean Amount of Online Communication................... 40 Table 8............... Distribution of Scores for Amount of Online Communication (age). Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never...... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Partners .. 61 Table 19......................................................................... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales ............................ 27 Table 3.......... 28 Table 4.........List of Tables Table 1..... 51 Table 13......................... 43 Figure 2. Sometimes or Often Communicated Online with each of the Listed Partners ...... Sometimes or Often Communicated Online about each of the Listed Topics ............. 30 Table 5...... List of the Five Motive Scales Including Purposes of Online Communication ................................................... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online Communication Topics ...... 47 Table 12........ Parents’ Socio-Economic Status................ 41 Table 9............. List of Partners of Online Communication.... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Topics......................................... 57 Table 16................... Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never...... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales ......................... Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never.................. Sometimes or Often Communicated Online for each of the Listed Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales. 44 Table 10.................................................................... Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales........................................................... Demographic Characteristics of Participants........... 64 List of Figures Figure 1............... 60 Table 18..................................................... 50 vii ............... Summary of Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Amount of Online Communication (n = 266) . 38 Table 7............................... 46 Table 11............ List of Topics of Online Communication.................................................................................

Statement of Original Authorship The work contained in this thesis has not been previously submitted to meet requirements for an award at this or any other higher education institution. Signature: _________________________ Date: _________________________ viii . the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made. To the best of my knowledge and belief.

at times crazy and funny. who spent an enormous amount of time reading and editing this thesis. and Mark for their extra feedback. they definitely taught me to never give up whenever I struggled with lack of selfconfidence! Needless to say. David. Last but not least. by always challenging me on my ways of thinking. who in 2007 all gave me the opportunity to conduct my first research abroad and to pick this wonderful country (Australia) in order to continue my education. First and foremost. and statistical support. they set an example for me to be a rigorous and autonomous scholar. but also for our friendly relationship.Acknowledgements Many special thanks to my Australian supervisors. More importantly. Linda Gilmore. I extremely appreciate the help and encouragement I received from other people as well. I would also like to acknowledge all my colleagues at QUT who I shared an office and many jokes with (Lutz. I am indebted to my family and thankful to my Italian supervisors. Uke. throughout my journey as a research student. But I will never forget either how amazing my partner and “best friend” Trina plus my statistical advisor Ray were at providing me with their moral. Dr. Marilyn Campbell and Dr. and Cappy). All these people therefore deserve exceptional recognition for their invaluable contributions to this thesis… but perhaps above all for their patience in tolerating me for either longer or shorter periods of time! ix . as well as Jan. Elham. Not only am I very grateful to them for their mentorship on this project. editorial. Janet.

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In a representative Israeli sample of individuals aged 12-18 (N = 980). children and adolescents reported that their most memorable Internet experiences involved connecting with friends and making new friends (ERIN Research Inc. and the current social networking sites now being preferred mediums for communication. 2005). and communicative services (Pornsakulvanich. This research concluded that while the conversational content was often mundane. they noted that the advantages of online communication were privacy. and intimacy. with texting. & Smith. The focus of this study. 2003). 52). Rankin Macgill. In Canada. participants reported that they valued highly constant contact with friends but were generally wary about talking to strangers online. is on computer-mediated communication (CMC). 2007). entertainment. Livingstone and Bober (2005) in a national survey conducted in the United Kingdom found that 55% (N = 1. Similarly. regarding these devices. Mesch and Talmud (2007) found that the social bond was stronger 1 . Madden. 2005). CMC technologies have widely developed their functions since the early nineties and are now frequently used by individuals and work places (Pornsakulvanich.and 17-years reported using online social networking sites to communicate with people. Although they reported that talking to people online was less satisfying than talking to people in real life. E-mail usage has steadily decreased among them over the past few years.. as they facilitate more instantaneous contact with friends (Lenhart. confidentiality. Instant Messaging (IM).. which Walther (1992) defined as “synchronous and asynchronous electronic mail and computer conferencing by which senders encode in text messages that are relayed from senders’ computers to receivers” (p.Chapter I: Introduction Background to the Study Diffusion of Computer-Mediated Communication Computers offer a wide range of informational. Lenhart and Madden (2007) highlighted in their study that 55% (N = 935) of American children and adolescents aged between 12. 2005).511) of children and adolescents aged between 9-19-years sent instant messages. In modern society computer-mediated communication is increasingly common among children and adolescents (Green et al.

1963. 2007). 2002). Sharing of personal information is influenced by the breadth (content areas) and depth (intimacy level) of communications (Altman & Taylor. Recent studies have shown that children and adolescents who make new friends online sometimes allow these relationships to move to face-to-face meetings and then to become increasingly closer (Mesch & Talmud. positive. the Internet is a major part of children’s and adolescents’ everyday lives. approval and control are fulfilled (Kaplan. Schutz. Cassel. an Internet tool that facilitates the exchange of instant messages between friends (Leung. and significant relationships is a fundamental human motivation for engaging in social interactions (Baumeister & Leary. 1999. a study found that 16% (N = 1. 1995). the Internet may be used as a medium to expand their social skills set. These friendships are referred to as mixed-mode friendships (Walther & Parks. adolescents and young adults spend much of their spare time on ICQ. In some Asian cultures such as in Hong Kong or Taiwan. 2 . 1996).as a function of how similar an online friend was in terms of their gender and residence. particularly as a medium for the formation and/or maintenance of their social relationships (Haythornthwaite & Wellman. 2000). 2002). maintaining at least a minimum quantity of lasting. 2003).124) of Internet users aged from 12. allowing them to keep in close contact with others (Stevens. Even when one does not meet others offline. affection. Computer-Mediated Communication as a Means to Form and Maintain Relationships through Self-Disclosure Essentially. It is through communication and interaction with others that the interpersonal needs for inclusion. an important determinant of one’s ability to form and maintain quality close relationships is their ability to intimately self-disclose (Knapp & Vangelisti. 2002. 2006). Wolak. Khoo. Harter. Mitchell. people have basic interpersonal needs to be included and loved. evidence shows that in various countries.to 17-years engaged in a face-to-face meeting with someone whom they first encountered online (Liau. 1977. & Ang. Forming new relationships and exploring new ideas or roles are in particular two crucial developmental tasks for children and adolescents (Erikson. & Gore. Schaffer. but also to belong and have relationships (Pornsakulvanich. 2005). In Singapore. However. 2005). 1966). & Finkelhor. Thus. Therefore.

Several studies have demonstrated that online communication promotes intimate self-disclosure (Joinson. Peter & Valkenburg. moral. 1993). The fact that children and adolescents engage in online social interactions provides opportunities for interesting research on the impact of the Internet on their personality. and the implications for their self and identity formation (McKenna & Bargh. refers to how people experience their lives in regard to dimensions of life satisfaction and positive 3 . Subjective well-being. 2002). but ultimately should move towards transformation into an integrated self (Marcia. Pornsakulvanich. political. whose assessments include both cognitive and affective components. socially interactive technologies provide people with a means to alter and experiment with their identities by disguising their real self (Gross. 2000). generally relationship partners must like and trust one another. 2004). Green. people on the Internet can choose to be invisible in terms of physical appearance and hence they may even give false information (McKenna & Bargh. Greenfield. Tidwell & Walther. For some people. & Tynes. Turkle. 2000). also. The Internet and Psychological Well-Being: Loneliness and Social Anxiety The introduction of the Internet has given rise to a debate on whether online communication impacts positively or negatively on social adjustment and psychological well-being (Engelberg & Sjöberg.1973. In order for intimate self-disclosure to take place. Subrahmanyam. and religious identities. in online attraction what is important is one’s perception of the other person (Levine. These identities initially vary across relational contexts. Leung. Valkenburg & Peter. 2002). Leung. Erikson (1959) believed that the major psychosocial task faced during childhood and adolescence was for individuals to develop stable and consistent gender. 2000. Therefore. such as within the family. & Gleason. 2003. and an impression of someone else can only be formed through the information that a person chooses to impart (Bonebrake. school or peer group. The Internet allows a person to control information communicated to others (Peter & Valkenburg. 2002). In addition. 2006). the relative anonymity of the Internet greatly aids safe self-disclosure and expression of one’s inner or true self (McKenna. 2008). 2006). 2004. sexual. 2002). (2005) argues that the negation of physical proximity online offers opportunities for people to get in touch with others in ways that may not be achieved in face-to-face interactions. 2004. However. 2001. 1995.

2003). Boneva. Does Internet use increase loneliness. To explain with whom and how children and adolescents go online. Sanders-Jackson. This gives rise to the basis for the current thesis. & Smallwood. Valkenburg and Peter (2007b) identified findings more consistent with the stimulation hypothesis. Two conditions. 2002. which are still expressed by two other opposing hypotheses identifying the types of children and adolescents that are most likely to be attracted to the Internet (Valkenburg & Peter. however. reducing the quality of well-being (Katz & Rice. Morahan-Martin & Schumacher. Recently. That is. 2006). as documented in a frequently cited study by Kraut et al. Valkenburg and Peter (2007b) reviewed the research on Internet communication from its early history to recent times. 2007b). lonely individuals turn to online communication because they have difficulty developing friendships in their real lives (Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi. neither the reduction nor the stimulation hypothesis takes into account the antecedents of online communication. affect a person’s well-being being associated with negative emotions: these are loneliness and social anxiety. or are lonely individuals more likely than non-lonely individuals to be drawn to the Internet? The direction of causality underlying this relationship is uncertain (Kraut. This hypothesis goes on to suggest that the Internet has become a handy method of communication that fosters social support. This hypothesis argues that contrasting features of online communication may assist children and adolescents to overcome their 4 . it impacts on people’s general well-being and results in higher rates of loneliness. 1998). Some studies support a social compensation hypothesis. & Fox. in theory. Amichai-Hamburger. 2000). If Internet use is excessive and lessens the amount of time that could be spent communicating face-toface with friends or family members (Nie & Erbring. Wainapel. however. Previous research seems to favour the reduction hypothesis. This reduces the quality of their existing friendships and social involvement (Locke. 2002).emotions (Diener. Children and adolescents use the Internet mainly to communicate with strangers. that is. Valkenburg & Peter. Kiesler. Indeed. 1997). 2003. children and adolescents communicate online with existing friends to consciously influence their peer networks (Bryant. & Shklovski. 2007b). without. 2006. (1998). they first introduced two contrasting hypotheses called reduction and stimulation of the closeness to friends. & Oishi. Suh.

Valkenburg.innate shyness and inhibitions which typically hinder their experiences in face-toface interactions. resulting in online relationships appearing more attainable (McKenna et al. these studies have neglected to examine the influence of loneliness and social anxiety on the usage of computermediated communication (Pornsakulvanich. & Gurevitch. 2002. 2005. 2001. Weiser. Research to date has therefore provided inconclusive findings regarding the 5 . Other studies support a rich-get-richer hypothesis. 2005). McKenna & Bargh. The former it is argued as using online communication as a means to meeting basic needs for belonging and intimacy (Baumeister & Leary. 2000).. Ruggiero. In summary. 2002). they have little need to express their true selves (McKenna et al. Moreover. Wästlund. & Gable. which are relevant in describing its psychosocial consequences (Peter.. these personality variables were recognized as possible predictors of children’s and adolescents’ likelihood to utilise online communication (Gross. Kraut et al. Later. 2002). Statement of the Problem Research over the past decade has investigated people’s use of Internet communication for social purposes. 2001). Juvonen. & Archer. & Schouten. however. unlike socially anxious individuals.. Indeed. 2000). 2007c). 1995. Theories that were developed in the second half of the nineties assumed that loneliness and/or social anxiety determined the frequency and nature of social interaction on the Web (Valkenburg & Peter. 2002).. The latter also communicate online but. Blumler. the social compensation and the rich-get-richer hypotheses are inadequate at explaining how particular individuals communicate online to maintain and/or to form friendships. Norlander. some people have social and psychological conditions that may affect ways and reasons why they use the Internet to fulfil their needs (Katz. 2002. 1974). such hypotheses do not take into consideration the fact that people may vary in their motives for using the Internet. The social compensation and the rich-get-richer hypotheses also apply to socially anxious and non-socially anxious individuals. which asserts that non-lonely individuals turn to online communication and use the Internet as just another venue where they can practise their already strong social skills to get in touch with peers (Kraut et al.

but these authors sampled mainly young adults. The present study argues that the amount. Research Questions Given what is identified as the purpose of the study. The current research.. 1960). as such. instead. and why participants with self-reported loneliness and/or social anxiety used the Internet for social communication as compared with participants who did not report significant loneliness and/or social anxiety.relationship between Internet use and well-being. In Australia. and purposes of online communication are formed patterns that provide underlying mechanisms of its uses and effects. targeted 626 children and adolescents aged 10-16 years-old. partners. Purpose of the Study Building on the work of Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). thoughts. Valkenburg & Peter. Donchi and Moore (2004) and Mazalin and Moore (2004) have examined the relationship between Internet use and well-being. 2007b). Valkenburg and Peter (2007a) suggested that this is because such a relationship has been investigated in a linear way based on a simple main effects model (Valkenburg & Peter. with whom. these mechanisms need to be identified and examined (Gross et al. about what. and pointed to the fact that CMC has no direct effect on psychosocial development. Boase and Wellman (2006) refuted this theoretical framework. in which the features and content of computer-mediated communication are believed to affect children’s and adolescents’ attitudes. the following related research questions were addressed: 1: Are there age differences in children’s and adolescents’ use of online communication? 2: Are there gender differences in children’s and adolescents’ use of online communication? 3: Are there differences in patterns of online communication for lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents? 6 . and behaviours (Klapper. this study explored how much. 2002. 2007b). topics.

with particular attention to Internet communication. Outline of the Study Chapter 1 presents an overview of the study. measures. social. and statistical analyses used in the study. 1995). research questions. school. If children and adolescents do not learn appropriate social behaviours. Chapter 4 reports on the findings of the study. procedure. Newcomb & Bagwell.Significance of the Study Clarification of differing online communication use between children and adolescents with self-reported high levels of loneliness and/or social anxiety and those with low scores may lead to improved understanding of the role that the Internet plays in the pursuit of either social support or escape among children and adolescents with these symptoms (Stroschein. and work domains (Altman. which includes a summary of preliminary analyses and significant results for each research question. Chapter 3 presents the methodology implemented for data collection and data analysis used in the study. these routine stages that all individuals must traverse can be particularly distressing and anxiety provoking (Altman. this may have a profound impact on their ability to function in life across familial. 2006). forming and maintaining close relationships is a core task in the process of identity experimentation and establishment (Kagan & Gall. 7 . For those individuals who experience loneliness and/or social anxiety. This includes descriptions of the sample. Chapter 5 includes a discussion of the findings of the study followed by a description of the limitations. Chapter 2 contains a discussion of the literature on loneliness and social anxiety among children and adolescents both in their offline and online settings. implications and recommendations for future research. 1998. 2000). Next. Finally. 2000). During childhood and especially in adolescence. Social skills are vital to one’s ability to communicate and to form close relationships with others.

Kindergarten and first-grade children in a study by Cassidy and Asher (1992) responded to a series of questions regarding their concepts of loneliness. 1995). Asher & Paquette. because it is easier to assess their peer world in this context. indeed. The majority of research on children’s loneliness has focused on aspects of their peer relationships and factors that lead to loneliness. argued that children cannot experience true loneliness until they reach early adolescence. 2007). increases the likelihood that one 8 . A flaw in these early studies was that they objectified social contact without considering children’s subjective experiences of loneliness such as their social relationships (Qualter & Munn. 2002). adolescence is “the time of life when loneliness first emerges as an intense recognisable phenomenon” (p. This research was groundbreaking as previously researchers believed that children were incapable o f experiencing the phenomenon of loneliness. 1997. and feel more rejected over time than those who feel accepted (Boivin. Vitaro. 269).Chapter II: Literature Review Loneliness and Social Anxiety in Children’s and Adolescents’ Social Life Loneliness Children as young as five or six years old have a basic understanding of loneliness (Asher & Paquette. for example. Hymel. 1999). The researchers found that for children loneliness involves a combination of isolation and a depressed affect. 1987). Children may experience loneliness at times such as when there is nobody to play with. According to Brennan (1982). & Borge. Barker. as it is during this period that a need for intimacy arises (Buhrmester & Furman. Sullivan (1953). Researchers have typically measured loneliness in childhood using sociometric instruments that have been usually administered in the school environment (Larson. Pedersen. Boivin & Hymel. 2003. they are able to associate these feelings with a need to find a friend. 2003). Experiencing rejection. hence. One of the main aspects of peer adjustment relates to whether one is accepted as opposed to rejected by peers (Asher & Gazelle. Children who are poorly accepted by their peers self-report experiencing higher levels of loneliness. 1999. & Bukowski. including where it comes from and what one might do to overcome this feeling.

security. It may range from verbal teasing which has the intention of being harmful through to more extreme forms such as physical aggression and bullying in school (Asher & Gazelle. affection and loyalty. An important determinant of loneliness in children and adolescents is whether their friendships are mutually valued. friendships can be differentiated in terms of whether they are of a high or low quality.will be the recipient of negative behaviour from others including peer victimisation (Dodge & Frame. loneliness may result when one experiences low quality friendships which may be characterised by limited companionship. 1993). derived less benefit from these friendships in terms of being protected from feelings of loneliness. or having limited scope for recreation. & TerrellDeutsch. lack of emotional support. Asher. & Kovacs. Hymel. Hayden Thomson. consequently. Those who lack peer acceptance and friendships are more susceptible to peer victimisation. Tarulli. Ladd. 1999. 1993). Indeed. 1997. in turn. Peer victimisation also plays a crucial part as a determinant of loneliness. In turn. & 9 . 1999). & Renshaw. Kochenderfer. 1993. those who report having no friends are more likely to experience loneliness than those with friends (Parker & Asher. 1984). Hymel. Parker and Seal (1996) found that children who frequently made new friends. one or both members feeling devalued and worthless in the relationship. 1999). Renshaw & Brown. 1999). However. (Asher & Gazelle. 1999). Being poorly treated. is more likely to contribute to a child’s negative representation of peers (Cassidy & Berlin. but who did not maintain these relationships. feelings of mistrust or fearfulness toward peers may cause victimised children to further isolate themselves and increase their feelings of alienation (Burgess. Hodges. Additionally. whilst well accepted children may nonetheless lack friends (Parker. the quality of friendship contributes to loneliness independently of the contribution of peer acceptance. 1982). 1997). meaningful and lasting. One’s potential for loneliness has been demonstrated to be correlated with their relative level of peer competence. Children who are accepted by peers and have friends are better protected from victimisation (Boivin & Hymel. Saxon. which has been hypothesized to destabilise children’s core feelings of trust. Those with low peer competence have been shown to be at a greater risk than those who are more competent. Malone. Another factor which has been shown to have an impact is whether the individual who is low in peer competence is aware of their deficit (Asher. and safety (Slee. because research indicates that poorly accepted children may still have friends. Lambert. & Perry.

1996. alcoholism. 1999). 1999). a lack of close friends. loneliness appears to be an indicator of internalising emotional problems and negative self-perceptions such as anxiety.. insecure. parents become less important whilst peers become more influential. 1998). 1999). 1994. Rubin. Crick & Ladd.Birch. depression. Social relationships. 2003). Moreover. obesity and sometimes even suicide (Goossens & Marcoen. In this stage. 2000). During this period. loneliness becomes increasingly associated with social anxiety. From middle to late childhood. Olweus. self-consciousness. they can make individuals feel like they have failed at 10 . aggression. depression. 1999). 1993). & Vitaro. and unappreciative of school than non-victimised peers (Kochenderfer & Ladd. These teenage years do not just heighten the feeling of alienation from peers. the individual’s social world undergoes an important restructuring. or low self-esteem (Boivin et al. 1999. & Parker. 1993). 1999). As a result of these changes. In the period between adolescence and adulthood. and peer victimisation are among the best predictors of one’s potential for negative self-views (Boivin. Hartup. and other mental health issues that may be externalised through problem behaviours such as dropping out of school. Rokach & Neto. Research has also provided evidence that children who experience peer relations problems and have low peer social status are more likely to have a language impairment. leading to feelings of loneliness (Parkhurst & Hopmeyer. 1994. therefore. 1996. Perlman. the early adolescent’s interpersonal self is typically disrupted as long as he/she has not reached a state of stabilisation in his or her relationships (Goossens & Marcoen. shyness. 1999). and exploration of one’s social value and self-presentation (Parkhurst & Hopmeyer. so being included and accepted by peers is of vital importance in the development of one’s identity (Erikson. During adolescence. and a sense of identity emerges (Harter. Pedersen et al.. Bukowski. these victimised and lonely children have been found to be more disconnected resulting in their being more anxious. Rejection among peers. 2007). 1999. suggesting that loneliness and deficits in communicative competence among children may be related (Asher & Gazelle. delinquency. drug usage. Early adolescence in particular is a time of experimentation with one’s role-taking abilities. start to expand outside of the individual’s family unit (Giordano. Poulin. 1988). particularly opposite sex peers (Larson. 1963. self-evaluative emotions including shame and humiliation can be expected to increase.

with those who spend an intermediate amount of their time alone being better adjusted than those who spend little or a great deal of time alone. and thus should not be viewed in itself as pathological (Asher & Gazelle. therefore. 2003.successfully meeting the task of being socially connected (Larson. 2003). it is important to determine whether their aloneness is due to their disposition or due to peer exclusion (Gazelle & Ladd. whereas it is considered normal for them to experience situational or transient loneliness from time to time. loneliness in adolescence may result from struggles with both interpersonal and intrapersonal issues. Larson (1999) argues that as children enter adolescence. In conclusion. they may experience feelings of loneliness (Sippola & Bukowski. However. 1999). loneliness remains markedly associated with solitude (Hay. Older children. whether solitude is selected by an individual or not. One of these is the attachment theory. 2004). Payne. they actively choose contexts that may lead to greater loneliness and as a result may spend increased amounts of time alone at home. Cassidy. Berlin. 1999). 1999). In the middle childhood years a tendency to engage in solitary play is correlated with social isolation and depressive symptoms. 1978). Beck & Young. when they lose someone close to them or lack a friend to play with (Asher & Paquette. Rotenberg (1999) reviews five major theories and hypotheses regarding parental antecedents of children’s and adolescents’ loneliness. One last consideration that is noted in the literature relates to parents’ affective states and behaviour that affect their children’s experiencing of loneliness. As adolescents struggle to reconcile the beliefs and values of peers and parents with their own values and beliefs. are able to differentiate between loneliness on the one hand and solitude (or aloneness) on the other. Larson (1997) also found that for adolescents. Loneliness can be considered a chronic condition when children and adolescents lack quality relationships over a long period of time. with solitude being seen as a voluntary state (Goossens & Marcoen. Loneliness can be viewed as the inevitable consequence of forming connections and attachments to people. 1999). particularly early adolescents. which reflect an interaction between the self and the broader social domain. Research suggests that this is because adolescence is also a time characterised by a rising need for self-reflection (Goossens & Marcoen. and Belsky (1995) argued that children who reported the 11 . solitude can have an adaptive and positive effect on one’s emotional state. 1999). & Chadwick.

may cause children and adolescents to experience greater degrees of loneliness (McDowell. Andersson (1990) on the other hand asserted that parental intrusion was more likely to foster narcissism in children which may in turn enhance their propensity for being lonely. Furthermore. factors which may result in the onset of loneliness in children and adolescents may be attributable to familial conflict and stress in the home context. 2003). 1992). the less likely children are to experience feelings of loneliness (Rotenberg. Low warmth and lack of positive involvement by parents with their children. Thus. La Greca. as well as to more frequent negative peer interactions and increased deficits in assertiveness and responsibility (Ginsburg.. Additionally. 2007). otherwise their children may develop feelings of loneliness (Hay et al. 12 . 2004). Social anxiety is also known as social phobia and is a disorder characterised by a strong fear of humiliation.. 2001). This often results in socially anxious individuals withdrawing from what they perceive as frightening and hence anxiety-provoking situations. 1993). This fear of social situations may then generalise to other forms of interpersonal contact (Kashdan & Herbert. as well as a controlling interaction style shown by mothers and fathers. 2001). or even grief and loss associated with the death of a family member (Jones. 1998). parental separation and/or divorce.most profound sense of loneliness in early childhood also formed an insecureavoidant attachment during infancy. The reason for such behaviour is that the socially anxious individual is typically afraid of failure if he/she feels exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others (Velting & Albano. as parents are a key agent of socialization especially in childhood (Shaffer. and a perception that one may be negatively evaluated by others in social situations (American Psychiatric Association. & Silverman. & Wang. embarrassment. 1999). 1994). Parke. Expectation of negative evaluation has been negatively associated with low self-worth and to a lack of peer acceptance (La Greca & Stone. Social Anxiety Loneliness can also be associated with social anxiety (Rao et al. it is purported that the more parents positively encourage and promote children’s peer relationships. it is important for them to teach their children to be able to resolve problems occurring in peer interactions. Intergenerational factors which relate to children’s likelihood of experiencing loneliness have also been identified. 2002).

Repeated exposure to peer harassment may lead children and adolescents to avoid anxiety provoking social interactions or to endure them with substantial distress (Storch. which is more covert and involves one hurting others through manipulation or damage to their interpersonal relationships (Crick & Grotpeter. hitting or threatening to attack others (Storch & Masia-Warner. suggesting that the social phobic’s view of himself or herself may be distorted. 1996). 2004). Other models argue for a bi-directional relationship. rather than focusing on their global performance or the more positive features. argue that such negative expectancies and selfevaluations may not accurately reflect appraisals of reality. Most notably. and relational victimisation. Rapee and Heimberg (1997). Crick & Grotpeter.Social anxiety can lead to significant distress and impairments in social. Beidel. for example. Storch (2003) describes how the causal nature of the relationship between peer victimisation and social anxiety is unclear. but also tended to anticipate negative outcomes from social-evaluative tasks and showed a higher level of negative cognitions in relation to these. They had few if any friends. academic. However. and Morris (1999) reported that individuals in middle childhood through early adolescence who were found to be socially anxious suffered substantial emotional distress and impairment in many routine. daily situations. by positing for example that socially anxious 13 . thus further impeding their ability to develop more appropriate social skills and self-esteem (Storch & MasiaWarner. 1996). Turner. 2001). Negative feedback from these situations may consequently hamper victimised individuals’ potential for exposure to constructive peer relationships. and family functioning (Kashdan & Herbert. and may have felt depressed as well. 2003). However. Spence. children and adolescents who are socially anxious exhibit significantly poorer social skills than those who are socially well adjusted. which involves. were extremely lonely. 1998. these socially phobic children may have focused on and exaggerated those aspects of their performance that would be most likely to elicit criticism or derision from others. Two types of peer victimisation have been studied: overt victimisation. Children and adolescents who have experienced elevated levels of peer victimisation have been found to report higher levels of social phobia as well (Crick & Bigbee. indeed. They also experienced increased somatic complaints such as headaches and stomach aches. Donovan and Brechman-Toussaint (1999) found that socially phobic children not only performed less competently on social skills than their non-socially anxious peers. 2004).

1999). The typical manifestations of social anxiety differ as a function of age. & Brechman-Toussaint. & Kessler. Velting and Albano (2001) reviewed several areas of research related to the phenomenon of social phobia in children and adolescents.. 1995). 1987). 1999). they are more likely to report suicidal ideations (Francis. & Barlow. DiBartolo. 2003. They are also at a higher risk for truancy and academic failure (Wittchen. Donovan. George. 2000). Francis. They are more prone than children to externalise their problems through fighting. Further. & Blazer. loneliness and introversion. Hughes. Davidson. & Strauss. Fear may also be invoked through public observation. Indicators such as crying and tantrums may be examples of this disorder during childhood (Spence.. familial genetic predisposition and environmental influences including parenting style cumulatively have a moderate but complex affect on the development of this phenomenon (Spence et al. 1995). & Grubb. and substance abuse (Clark et al. Initiating or joining conversations. 1991). 1995. may pose difficulties for these adolescents (Storch. as well as significant patterns of social avoidance and deficits in social skills. 1993. and formal situations in which they have to speak to an authority figure or perform in front of an audience. somatic complaints (Faust & Forehand. 2000. It has been found that parents of children and adolescents who are socially anxious are also more likely to meet criteria for an anxiety disorder themselves compared to parents of non-socially anxious offspring (Last. Hofmann et al. Heimberg. Velting and Albano (2001) believe that parental anxiety is. For example. (1999) found that adolescents who are socially anxious are typically afraid of informal social interactions such as attending parties or after school activities. a significant 14 . Stein. at the very least. circumstances requiring assertiveness. as well as writing or eating. 1998). those who are socially anxious experienced higher levels of depression. MacDonald. Last. DeWit. 1994). 1986). 2001). Kazdin. inflexible and rigid temperamental styles such as obsessive-compulsive disorders (Beidel. Children can also present with less obvious symptoms such as freezing (Albano. Beidel et al. and concerns of being looked at or talked about by strangers (Abe & Suzuki. antisocial behaviour. 2001). 1992) or excessive self-focused attention (Albano. & Offord. Velting & Albano.children and adolescents espouse signs of vulnerability that invite peer victimisation (Crick & Bigbee. (2007) found that compared to non-socially phobic adolescents. Velting & Albano. Hersen.

Furthermore. it is highly probable that socially anxious children or adolescents perceive their parents as contributing to their social isolation and being overly restrictive of them. Above all. This can lead to their being neglected at school and further intensify their anxieties (Kashdan & Herbert. Inderbitzen. & Ryan. (2000) believe that social anxiety is not likely to be a temporary condition. some form of intervention either through psychopharmacology or psychotherapy is required to treat childhood and adolescent social anxiety (Kashdan & Herbert. and encourage them instead to keep the threatening aspects of life in mind.. 1994). Barrett. socially anxious children and adolescents do not generally exhibit behaviours that typically concern their parents enough for them to seek help (Beidel et al. Conversely. 1996. & Bukowski. social anxiety places children and adolescents at risk for long-term problems with education. Socially anxious individuals become so fixated on what others’ might think of them that they tend to make themselves invisible. 1999. 2000). 2001). prompt. Excessive social anxiety may interfere with their normal process of peer socialisation and play a key role in their decreased social support and impaired social functioning (Inderbitzen. social relationships. Walters. over-protective. Spence et al. and positively reinforce newly acquired social 15 . and employment. It is assumed that this is due to their anxious parents adopting an over-controlling. 1994). not wanting to stand out or be different in case someone might notice them (Kashdan & Herbert. instead it is expected to be a long-term problem for those with the disorder. 1999). as well as increasing the risk of suffering from depression (Velting & Albano. Teaching parents to model. 2001). As a result. & Hope. hence avoiding that which is perceived as threatening (Spence et al. and over-critical approach towards their children which they justify through their negatively skewed view of the world (Dadds. They are also more likely to believe that their parents are ashamed of their shyness and poor performance (Caster. 2001). Furthermore. Spence et al..maintaining factor in children’s social phobia. Therefore. It also inhibits their ability to function independently as adults. 1997). (2000) provide parents with suggestions for being involved in cognitive-behaviour therapy for children’s and adolescents’ social phobia. 2001). as clearly parents have been shown to play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of this disorder. Messer & Beidel. they are more likely to demoralize their children with regards to the acquisition of social skills for solving problems. Rapee. Messer & Beidel.

at present usage of the Internet for educational purposes (Wynne & Mai. Mesch.. peer relationships can be unsatisfactory and potentially damaging for those children and adolescents who are vulnerable and at higher risk for peer victimisation (Hay et al. 2001). Nonetheless. 2004). and friendship from using the Internet (Leung. In conclusion. 2003)... especially on how they respond to interactions in their social life. which may result in their seeking excitement. 2003). Frequency and duration are common quantitative measures of direct online experiences of 16 . Children and adolescents during these stages have to learn how to cooperate with peers. 2002.. Their lives can be plagued by loneliness and/or social anxiety. 2004). Valkenburg and Peter (2007b) define online communication in terms of frequency. intensity and rate with which children and adolescents interact socially via Instant Messaging or chat. 2002) pales in comparison to its utilisation as a tool for interpersonal communication and socialising (Kraut et al. including entertainment and information retrieval (Kraut et al. are more engaged and connected at school and in their orientation towards work than those who do not report having friends. be less aggressive. 1998). the family and peer groups are important for the development of children’s and adolescents’ identity and the pursuit of self-discovery and independence (Kagan & Gall. 1995). Children’s and Adolescents’ Use of Internet Communication The Internet has a profound influence on today’s children and adolescents in general. Notably. intimacy.skills regularly in real life situations is likely to increase the generalisation of their children’s behaviour changes across contexts. Forming and maintaining strong interpersonal bonds with friends is of vital importance for their cognitive. In addition. emotional. 2000). be more altruistic. individuals who have more supportive friends have been shown to report higher self-esteem and be at a significantly reduced risk for depression than those whose friends are less supportive (Beraman & Moody. According to Hartup and Stevens (1997). They use this technology in many different ways and for various purposes. 1998. assume and reconcile different perspectives and satisfy rising needs for intimacy and belonging (Crosnoe. social development and health (Newcomb & Bagwell. Wolak et al. individuals who have friends are more likely to have increased confidence.

including online communication (Yan. or undertake relatively short conversations (Greenfield & Subrahmanyam. Tapscott (1998) classifies those born between 1977 and 1997 as a new generation called “The Net-Generation”.. and self-reliant (Leung.. children and adolescents are able to play virtual 17 . and usage of various props. 2003). 2006). In this way children and adolescents engage in unlimited real-time. 2005). these technologies become more within their financial reach (Lenhart et al. Tapscott (1998) suggested that children and adolescents can become more actively involved when communicating via the Internet and can develop a new language and a new set of values. He argued that all the elements of the front stage.Internet use. private. such environments are redefining the use of computers for communication and networking purposes (Bryant et al. 2006). Within the conversational space provided in chat rooms several topics can be discussed in parallel by groups of people that may partly overlap. 2006). Instant Messaging allows users to be informed when friends are online and thus to chat with them in real-time through text windows that appear on the screens of the two parties involved (Gross et al. 2004). 2005). They on average spend more time on the Internet than earlier generations (Lenhart. are curious. and faster than classical technologies (Bryant et al. 1996) form of communication such as e-mail. This generation is more comfortable with computers than their parents due to their exposure to this technology having grown up in the Digital Age (Leung. 2003). 2003). Through the use of Multi-User Domains (MUDs). Madden. 2006. 2005). This allows individuals to contribute to several conversations at the same time. 2003. Herring. 1999).. Children and adolescents have also adopted text-mediated communication by mobile phone relatively quickly because it is more convenient. These “Net-Geners” are characterised as consumers who are accepting of diversity. As social networks are being co-constructed online. including physical appearance. dyadic chatting (Gross. Moreover. By talking at non-traditional times.. it can be accessed at any time without the need for a computer allowing the user to be constantly available for communication. 2002). because they utilise this means of communication to a greater extent in their social lives (Madden & Rainie. on the Internet must be therefore totally constructed by the participants (Brignall & Van Valey. assertive. enabling a synchronous as opposed to an asynchronous (Walther. & Hitlin. Greenfield & Yan. manner of speaking. of low expense.

1984). and establish or maintain connections with people they already know offline (Ellison. Furthermore. In early conceptualizations of online relationships. 2003). 2001. Thus. level of intimacy and trust experienced (Mesch & Talmud. researchers have identified that electronic media were relatively weak in supporting social ties or emotional exchanges between participants. The quality of personal relationships is assessed in terms of the perceived closeness. those that are classified as weaker are more likely to be with individuals who are regarded as acquaintances rather than as friends. Whitty & Gavin. 2001). sharing of emotions. activities that are mutually liked. Steinfield. These technologies were not argued to convey complex information or a high sense of social presence to others (Mesch & Talmud. however. 1996). they can be whoever they want to be and they can redefine themselves by constructing a viable mask or a persona that is close or completely different to their real selves. and long-term interactions. 2006). These relationships tend to be less supportive and are characterised by more trivial conversations between participants (Marsden & Campbell. The more time children and adolescents spend utilising socially interactive technologies. & Lampe. Lower social presence leads to more shallow and impersonal computer-mediated communication as participants must rely only on typed words and symbols to convey messages to others and back (Moody. 1996. 2007). Conversely. 2006). self-disclosure. articulate their social networks. the more likely they are to form social relationships. Children’s and Adolescents’ Online Social Life Studies of online interactions are divided on their conclusions as to whether these experiences lead to deeper or shallower social relationships (Mesch & Talmud.. it is important to note that these interactions may not translate to social support being 18 . Parks & Floyd. 2006).reality games where they can create scene and drama advances and become the author of the story (Leung. it appears that children and adolescents socialise online in different ways according to the type of Internet application chosen to meet their communication needs (Subrahmanyam et al. This results in less attention and effort being paid to the speaker (Parks & Floyd. 2006). Stronger ties are characterised by higher intimacy. The use of online social networking websites allows children or adolescents to present themselves to strangers.

it may lead users to qualitatively poor participation in their social lives (Kiesler. race or weight and creating a new character which is different from the one expressed in 19 . 1998). the anonymity and the reduced social cues (Mazalin & Moore. verbal and non-verbal communication skills. As a consequence. 2007b. & McGuire. the Internet may substitute weak ties for strong ones (Granovetter. an individual’s self-perception is reduced and deindividuation is encouraged. that is. 2003). accessibility of inappropriate material (Bremer & Rauch... at worst. 2001). flaming. Authors such as Putnam (2000) and Morahan-Martin and Schumacher (2003) have expressed concern that the ease of online communication might encourage people to spend more time by themselves. which is ultimately detrimental to personal well-being of individuals (Wolfradt & Doll. Wallace. 2004). physical proximity and information about physical appearance were necessary precursors for social relationships to develop (Di Gennaro & Dutton. sexual exploration and paedophile/pornographic contact (Livingstone & Helsper. to addiction (Grohol. Subrahmanyam et al.. 1998. Many of the early computer-mediated communication studies argue that the lack of cues and the lower social presence in cyberspace also can expose children and adolescents to dangers such as online predators. According to the “shipboard syndrome” (Curtis. 2008). Sproull & Kiesler. and communication in a narrow focus (Kraut et al. Kraut et al. body language) would make computer-mediated communication more suited for supporting weak ties with unknown people. Hence. 1999. Due to the anonymity of CMC. 1997). 1999). 1998) and. 1996). age. Wellman. individuals can deceive these children and adolescents online by lying about their gender. & Kraut. 1999). 2007). Butler. 2002). Krackhardt. forming superficial “drive by” relationships with strangers at the expense of deeper face-to-face conversations with friends and family (Brenner. According to traditional relationship theories.available offline (Bryant et al.. 2004) rather than the important nuances of face-to-face interactions (e. superficial relationships with easily broken bonds. 1997. Thus. 1992. which may lead to people taking impulsive anti-normative behaviour (Ando & Sakamoto. Turkle. 1973) and deprive users of a sense of belonging and connection with “real world” contacts (MorahanMartin & Schumacher. infrequent contact. cyber-bullying (Ybarra & Mitchell. 1995. Siegel. 1986.g. Cummings. 2006). 2006. 1984.. Young.

2002). Fischer. 2007). and Schouten (2007) argue that reduced visual and auditory cues. The “filter-out-cues” theory. such as best friends or boyfriends/girlfriends (McKenna & Bargh. On the Internet. 2008). These features lower the risks associated with disclosing intimate information in interpersonal exchanges. Moreover. Harman. 2000. 2000) and over self-presentation (Walther. 2004). Page and Homant (2001) found that those who use the Web to meet others demonstrated strong skills in terms of communication. 1996) because a larger amount of time is available to plan and reflect (Peter & Valkenburg. 2005). Sakamoto et al. Cyber-relationships therefore sometimes develop into sound relationships. Katz & Rice. 1998). Additionally. Hansen. provide status and allow individuals to 20 . 2002. can allow individuals to form strong ties more easily when their true selves are revealed and shared openly. as well as the anonymity and ease of finding others with the same interests.face-to-face interactions (Griffiths. 1999. McCown. some have noted that it is easier to find friends of the opposite sex on the Internet rather than in real life (Parks & Roberts. resulting in more frequent and intimate social relationships (Mazalin & Moore. bolster self-esteem.. being empathetic to others and honest. 1996). Valkenburg. This may be due to the level of control that one can exert over their Internet communication with others (McKenna & Bargh. challenged these claims and argued that online communication has a positive utility. 1996). one can share their inner beliefs and emotional reactions with much less fear of disapproval and rejection (Mesch & Talmud. online interactions can reinforce one’s views and beliefs. Other writers believe that online interactions can liberate users from the traditional constraints of time and place. 2006). Also. allowing for the formation of positive impressions and hence turning impersonal online relationships into “hyperpersonal” online relationships (Walther. online interactions may offer a safe environment for identity-experiments and practice of early social interactions without expecting much reciprocally from others (Bremer & Rauch. Cochran. 1996). Parks & Floyd. Peter. (2002) point out that cyberrelationships can improve one’s skills. Online interactions can also make decision-making procedures more efficient (Walther. 1998. Valkenburg & Peter. however. & Lindsey. which may generalise to those necessary to maintain face-to-face interpersonal relationships. whereas such disclosures in a face-to-face community may be embarrassing or be too risky due to the possibility that one may be ridiculed or rejected (McKenna et al.

Witte. to make plans with one another. Lenhart et al. Whittle. be motivated to self-disclose more frequently and more effectively online than 21 . 2003). research is divided on whether the involvement of children and adolescents with the Internet and online relationships has enhanced or lessened their offline social involvement and well-being (Di Gennaro & Dutton. 2004). 2007. Due to the altered patterns of this technology they may be able to compensate for their impaired social skills. Wellman. since it can be a space that makes interactions with distant associates and strangers possible (Wolak et al.feel respected making one feel a greater sense of peer acceptance (Joinson. especially in relation to those who are lonely and/or socially anxious (Maczewski. 2005. The reduced audiovisual cues and anonymity provided by the Internet may help them to overcome the inhibitions that they may typically experience in real life social situations (McKenna et al. literature comparing these qualities and looking at children’s and adolescents’ online interactions within the context of their offline lives is still scant. Quan Haase. In summary. or are continuous with. Children and adolescents use this socially interactive technology to enhance communication mainly among family and friends who are also part of their daily offline lives. However. Valkenburg & Peter. Recent research has demonstrated that offline and online social networks overlap and cannot be strictly separated among children and adolescents (Bryant et al. Furthermore. 1997). 2006. 1999.. and to maintain social contact outside of their daily face-to-face conversations (Bryant et al... Lea. 2000. Gross. Postmes. 2002). Lonely and Socially Anxious Children and Adolescents Communicate Online Due to the difficulties faced in their offline lives. 1996. lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents are more likely to be attracted to the Internet because in this environment they may be able to expand their social networks more easily than they might be able or willing to do in their real offline lives (MorahanMartin & Schumacher. However. 2004). it is increasingly argued that social relationships mediated by the Internet reflect. 2007b). 2006. Mesch & Talmud. 2006). & Hampton. Walther. Wolbert. The Internet has become an integral part of their social life. 2001).. & Rogers. 2002. Pelling.. Bonebrake (2002) argues that there is no drastic difference between offline and online relationships in terms of their qualities. 2003). offline relationships (Spears.

Peter et al. Alternatively. 2005). 2004. They may spend higher amounts of time on the Internet because they feel more comfortable communicating in this context in comparison to offline situations (Thayer & Ray. they may use online communication to isolate themselves more or to fill voids left due to their lack of offline relationships (Scealy. and as a result form online friendships (McKenna & Bargh. Gross et al. Parks & Floyd. without investigating whether loneliness and social anxiety have an impact on the usage of CMC (Pornsakulvanich..they usually would in face-to-face interactions. 2002). Because of their psychological vulnerability they may be particularly exposed to other online risks. One area that continues to be contentious regards the question of whether loneliness and/or social anxiety are related to the amount (frequency and duration) of online communication. Nie & Erbring. Liau et al. Some studies have shown that excessive Internet use is related to loneliness and contributes to increased depression impacting negatively on social support and interactions (Kraut et al. 2000.. 1998. 1999). Another debatable area is the extent of age and gender differences in relation to usage of online communication. & Stevenson. Further.. 2006. Livingstone and Helsper (2007a) revealed a “digital divide” by age in terms of access to the Web and quality of use of the Internet. Phillips.511) mentioned before. & Hughes. 2005). Research Questions Research in the past decade has focused on examining how people in general have used computer-mediated communication for social purposes. 2002). Cumming. In the sample of children and adolescents (N = 1. Previously boys have been shown to use the Internet more than girls as they played 22 .. 2006). 1996. 2000). Other studies have found no correlation between time spent online and well-being (Campbell. Finally. but eventually may be encouraged to engage in risky offline meetings with unknown people (Larsson. 2005). studies that have focused on the relationship between Internet use and well-being have provided inconsistent and conflicting findings. Moreover. they may spend so much time on the Internet that they become addicted to this technology (Young. they may become friends with strangers they meet online. 1999.

topics. the research questions were: 1: Are there age differences in children’s and adolescents’ use of online communication? 2: Are there gender differences in children’s and adolescents’ use of online communication? 3: Are there differences in patterns of online communication for lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents? In the next chapter. On the basis of Valkenburg and Peter’s (2007b) study. patterns of online communication such as amount. As stated previously in Chapter 1.more videogames. The variety of Internet applications including online communication however has widely increased in the last ten years and has been breaking down the gender gap (Gross. partners. 23 . and purposes were examined. Age and gender differences were also investigated. Therefore. the methodology used for answering the research questions will be explained. 2004). this study sought to explore how children and adolescents with self-reported loneliness and/or social anxiety used the Internet for social communication as compared with participants who did not report significant loneliness and/or social anxiety.

whereas they comprised 45. duration. The sample size was similar to the one used by Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). Usage of an asynchronous method of online communication such as e-mail was not investigated. SD = 1.50). types of partners. who surveyed 665 children and adolescents in the same age range (M = 13. in Valkenburg and Peter’s (2007b) study the children (10.31. possible topics. This nonexperimental study focused on synchronous ways of communicating online including Instant Messaging applications.5% females (n = 310). thus providing a more even distribution across the age range.7% of the current study.to 12-year olds) accounted for only 19% of the sample.85.Chapter III: Method Research Design Using a cross-sectional survey approach. social networking websites. SD = 1. However. 24 . See Table 1 for demographic characteristics of participants.5% males (n = 316) and 49. and purposes for communicating online. data were collected on specific demographic characteristics. and a self-assessment of loneliness and social anxiety (see Appendix A). chat programs and computer games that combine elements of role-playing and social chat rooms (MUDs: Multi-User Dungeons). Participants Data were gathered from a convenience sample of 626 students ranging in age from 10. 51% boys and 49% girls.to 16-years-old (M = 12.92). Participants were 50. patterns of online communication such as frequency.

2 103 16.2 13 2.0 95 15.4 109 17.0 12 20 3.6 7 58 9.2 59 9.3 Not shown 0 0.2 50 8.2 AGE GRADE 25 .0 1 0.1 22 3.7 92 14.5 54 8.8 30 4.3 45 7.0 59 9.7 27 4.6 40 6.4 14 45 7.5 5 17 2.4 83 13.6 57 9.0 42 6.9 46 7.7 11 41 6.4 129 20.0 41 6.5 85 13.6 11 50 8.2 1 0.2 15 42 6.1 98 15.8 66 10.3 44 7.4 81 13.5 8 32 5.5 89 14.3 10 41 6.8 41 6.4 12 50 8.2 16 36 5.Table 1 Demographic Characteristics of Participants Male GENDER Female TOTAL (N = 316) (N = 310) (N = 626) n % n % n % 10 44 7.0 6 70 11.1 33 5.5 90 14.7 47 7.7 13 49 7.6 9 37 5.

professional. 2008). Using the method of condensing the ASCO categories proposed by Najman and Bampton (1991). the numerically smaller the classification code (BrechmanToussaint. These were then coded using the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations. the sample was grouped into three broad occupational categories and contrasted with data for the Australian population (Australian Bureau of Statistics. The ASCO is a widely used classification system which groups occupations according to the skill level needed to perform occupational tasks: the more skilled the job.Measures Demographic Information. 1997). elementary clerical. gender. Therefore. respectively. Additionally. information on parents’ current jobs was gathered in order to describe the socio-economic status of the sample. Percentages corresponded for the second grouping (tradespersons. and para-professional) and third (production and transport workers. 1997). this was not a representative group of the Australian population. Second Edition (Australian Bureau of Statistics. Questions inquiring about respondents’ age. sales and service workers) but the proportions of the sample falling into the first (managerial. grade as well as total number of siblings were constructed. somewhat higher and lower than those for the general Australian population. sales and service workers. school. being skewed in favour of high socio-economic status (see Table 2). advanced and intermediate clerical. labourers) groupings were. 26 .

7 5. on an average week day. Question 1 asked the participants the number of days that they had been online to chat in the past week.2 149 29.6 29. Response categories for Question 1 ranged from None (0) to Every day (4).6 5.Table 2 Parents’ Socio-Economic Status n % Males Aust.6 2 . % (1) Managers/Administrators 25 4. retired.4 2.9 12.7 40 8.0 12. Amount of Online Communication.0 10 1. or not adequately described.7 45 9.2 Father (N = 545) GROUPING Mother (N = 499) (4) Tradespersons/Related Workers (5) Advanced Clerical/Service Workers (6) Intermediate Clerical/Sales & Service Workers TOTAL 2ND GROUPING (7) Intermediate Production/Transport Workers (8) Elementary Clerical/Sales & Service Workers (9) Labourers/Related Workers TOTAL 3RD GROUPING Note.9 23.8 22. Responses to the four items were standardized and 27 . Pop.4 29.0 3.9 100 20.4 6. 81 fathers and 127 mothers were coded as student.6 29.1 3 . Questions 2-4 asked about the approximate total time spent chatting on the last day they were online.7 30 5.8 20.2 135 24.4 9.1 128 25.0 8.2 13 2. This measure developed by Valkenburg and Peter (2007b) was adapted to assess frequency (Question 1) and duration (Questions 2-4) of online communication.7 15 3.4 17.7 36. Specifically.5 37.2 50.3 56.6 9 1.7 26.2 11.8 .0 13. and on an average weekend.0 7. whereas response categories for Questions 2-4 ranged from Less than 15 minutes (1) to More than 4 hours (5).9 41. not stated.5 13.6 (2) Professionals 122 (3) Associate Professionals 163 ASCO major group TOTAL 1 ST n % Females Aust.5 22. home duties.1 38 7.5 41. Pop. unemployed. % 11.4 9.6 33.9 17 3.

produced a Cronbach’s alpha of . This list combined items that were used in the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s surveys and other previous studies on Internet use such as the ones conducted by Gross et al.66). SD = .99. with higher scores equating to a higher usage and lower scores a lower usage of online communication. z scores for amount of online communication ranged from -4. and Bryant et al. The remaining items were created and added by the researcher. A 35-item list of topics of online communication created by the researcher was used in this study.90 (M = .78. The standardized scores were summed to create a composite measure for frequency and duration.84. Cronbach’s alpha for this list was . A semi closed-ended format was preferred in order to allow respondents to expand on answers about topics that were not included in this list. Gross (2004). (2006). Topics of Online Communication. For each item. Table 3 presents the list of topics of online communication. Table 3 List of Topics of Online Communication TOPICS Serious problems Trivial problems School work or homework Things you would not say to someone’s face Other kids Plans for social events Asking someone to go out with you Asking someone to be your friend Teachers Sports Videogames and online games 28 . (2002). participants were asked how often they chatted about that specific topic. response categories ranged from Never (0) to Often (2).99 to +7.

An 8-item list of partners of online communication created by thesis supervisors was used in this study. response 29 .Table 3 (continued) TOPICS Gossip/rumours Books Shopping Current events Politics Your health Hobbies Relationships Things that bother you Clothes and fashion Music TV programmes Films and videos Parents or family Websites Things related to the computer How you feel Breaking up with someone Your future Things in your past Things you have done that day Secret or confidential things Jokes or funny stories Holidays OTHER Partners of Online Communication. participants were asked how often they chatted with that specific partner. For each item.

69).71). and meeting people (two items. M = .42. Table 4 presents the list of partners of online communication.67). M = .76. & Barbato.66. 2001. these in the current study yielded the following coefficients of internal consistency: entertainment (six items. SD = .72.62. SD = . Perse.categories ranged from Never (0) to Often (2). Cronbach’s alpha = . The authors extracted five interpretable factors from items included in previous uses-and-gratifications studies (Leung. social compensation (three items. Cronbach’s alpha = . The 18 purposes for communicating online developed by Peter et al.52.68). 30 . 1988) and adjusted to online communication. SD = .60 (M = . Cronbach’s alpha = . social inclusion (four items. SD = .18.62). M = 1. maintaining relationships (three items. Cronbach’s alpha = . (2006) were used in this study.70).61. Table 5 presents the list of purposes included in the five motive scales for online communication.70. Rubin. Cronbach’s alpha = . Table 4 List of Partners of Online Communication PARTNERS Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family Adults you have met Adults you have never met Purposes of Online Communication. M = . For each purpose. They then shaped five terms for motive scales that were retained.81. SD = . M = 1. response categories ranged from Never (0) to Often (2). Cronbach’s alpha for this list was . SD = .76. participants were asked how often they chatted for that specific purpose.

Table 5 List of the Five Motive Scales Including Purposes of Online Communication (1) Entertainment PURPOSES To have fun Because I enjoy it For pleasure So I don’t get bored To have something to do To relax (2) Maintaining Relationships PURPOSES To speak with my friends from real life To keep in contact with my friends To talk with friends that live far away (3) Social Compensation PURPOSES Because I can talk more comfortably Because I dare to say more To feel less shy 31 .

La Greca & Stone. The spread of possible total scores on this scale ranges from 18 to 90. items containing the term “other kids” were changed to “peers”. The wording of this scale stems from the Social Anxiety Scale for Children-Revised (SASC-R. La Greca & Lopez. 1993). The 18 items are divided into three distinct subscales that have been identified through factor analytic studies: Fear of Negative Evaluation (FNE). which was modified slightly by La Greca and Lopez (1998) to make it more developmentally appropriate for adolescents. Subjects rate items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from Not at all true (1) to True all the time (5). and 4 filler items reflecting activity or social preferences. The Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A. “others”. and references to “playing with” others were reworded to “doing things with” others. which 32 . 1998) contains 18 descriptive self-statements designed to measure subjective feelings of social anxiety or social phobia. or “people”.Table 5 (continued) (4) Social Inclusion PURPOSES To belong to a group To be a member of something Because everybody does it To belong to my chat friends (5) Meeting People PURPOSES To get to know new people To make new friends Social Anxiety. for example.

83 (M = 2. since two items had loaded less than . and worries related to not being liked by peers. the same items selected from the SAD-New subscale were used in this study. 1998). Social Avoidance and Distress in New Situations (SAD-New). Responses were therefore summed to produce a single score. fears. The UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) is valid and reliable. In particular. but also indicates the intensity of an individual’s perception of loneliness (Dittmann. The SAS-A has been found to be psychometrically sound.42. The scale yields a unidimensional global index of loneliness with potential total scores ranging from 20 to 80. 2003). Russell (1996) reported construct validity and adequate test-retest reliability when the scale was used with several different samples. Subjects indicate how often they feel lonely on a 4-point Likert scale. 2004). Nine items are worded in a positive.89 to . ranging from . 2003). with higher scores equating to a higher level and lower scores a lower level of social anxiety (scores range: 4-20).76 to . 33 . Also.17). 1997). The UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) developed by Russell (1996) is a 20-item self-report scale designed to measure subjective feelings of loneliness or social isolation. non-lonely direction and eleven items in a negative. ratings range from Never (1) to Always (4). coefficients alphas for the scale reflected a highly internally consistent measure. General Social Avoidance and Distress (SAD-General). Loneliness. with good internal consistencies (Cronbach’s alphas) ranging from . only the four remaining items of the original subscale were retained.consists of eight items tapping concerns. SD = 1.94. Subscale scores are likewise obtained by summing the ratings for each item in the three subscales (Storch. In line with Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). The four items of this abbreviated scale resulted in a Cronbach’s alpha of .91 for the three subscales (La Greca & Lopez.40 on the principal component that La Greca and Lopez (1998) had helped to define. which contains four items reflecting more general social anxiety or inhibition with familiar peers (Brechman-Toussaint. Version 3 has become the most widely used measure of loneliness as it employs more simplified wording and format than the earlier versions (Iowa State University. consisting of six items related to discomfort and inhibition in interaction with unfamiliar peers or in new social situations. lonely direction. This scale not only focuses on the quality of interpersonal relationships.

To be eligible to take part in the study. SD = . Contacts were established either by e-mail or phone calls in order to discuss the intent of the study. Students were recruited within grades 5 through 12 from ten schools in the greater area of Brisbane. The five items of this abbreviated scale resulted in a Cronbach’s alpha of . number of students being surveyed. Besides a copy of the questionnaire.. the same five items with the highest item-total correlations and a negative wording (Russell. Australia. Responses were summed to produce a single score. no submission of a formal application form was required before inviting school principals to participate. information describing the research along with an informed consent form was attached and then sent to the various schools. but also potential risks and benefits had been addressed and approved. 1996) were used in this study. after issues relating not only to recruitment and consent. during what periods.84 (M = 1. prior to the commencement of data collection the study obtained ethical clearance from the University Human Research Ethics Committee at Queensland University of Technology. coordinate logistical concerns (e. the voluntary basis of study’s participation.3%) from four secondary schools. 54. with higher scores equating to a higher level and lower scores a lower level of loneliness (scores range: 5-20). and specify what would be required of the students. Permission to conduct the study in the State-run schools was granted by Education Queensland through the Executive Director of Schools. three schools were in the public sector and within the same education district. The children (10. Brisbane.82. At the primary level. Procedure In compliance with ethical protocols. the capital of Queensland. and where the testing would take place).to 12-year olds. Data collection then started in early November 2007 and finished in late June 2008. 45. thus. n = 340. the general content of the questionnaire. students had to have access to a computer and the Internet at home and use any application for communication purposes. At the secondary level all schools were independent. privacy and confidentiality of the data collected.g. the study’s benefit-versus-risk analysis. n = 286. and 34 .83).7%) were recruited from six primary schools and the adolescents (13. This document consisted of the study’s statement of purpose.to 16-year olds.In line with Valkenburg and Peter (2007b).

allowing that there was no type of incentive given to the students to complete the survey. The students were asked to take the document home. “non-lonely” and lonely plus “non-socially anxious” and socially anxious groups were formed by using a median split (Mdn = 9 for each of the two constructs: loneliness and social anxiety).0. Next. First. Questionnaires were either mailed or picked up by the researcher upon completion. whereas at the secondary level teachers were asked to present the information to students.a stated right to refuse to participate or withdraw at any time without fear of any negative consequences. Only completed survey data were kept for analysis. no names were requested. two boys’ schools were approached with the aim of increasing the number of male participants to balance gender across the sample. and obtain their permission to participate in the survey. All schools were selected on the basis of their accessibility or willingness to assist the researcher for the project. A higher number of schools compared to the one in the study conducted by Valkenburg and Peter (2007b) was approached in order to compensate for the general low return rate. whereas the non-lonely and the non-socially anxious groups included participants who had scores at the median and below. read it with their parents or guardians. participants filled out the questionnaire at a convenient time during school hours. Completing the questionnaire took about 20 minutes. To ensure the privacy of the students and the confidentiality of their data. Towards the end of the data collection phase. Data Analysis Quantitative data gained from the questionnaires were coded and analysed utilising the software SPSS for Windows Version 15. they were instructed to return the document signed by both their parents and themselves to their classroom teachers. Once permission was given. students who indicated that they did not communicate online were excluded from this study. The researcher was present for guidance and assistance in administration of the questionnaire in the primary schools. students were given additional time to return their permission slips in order to obtain the proper sample size. The lonely and the socially anxious groups included participants who had scores above the median. Furthermore. 35 .

a multiple linear regression analysis was performed to investigate age and gender differences across the four levels of loneliness/social anxiety in terms of amount of online communication.Second. gender. Descriptive statistics were employed to examine patterns of online communication. a Crosstabs procedure was employed to evaluate the interrelationship between the two constructs and therefore to count overlaps across the four groups. All the differences were tested with an alpha level of . Specifically. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to assess differences across the four levels of loneliness/social anxiety in amount of online communication. Finally. 139 as “socially anxious but not lonely”. means. and loneliness/social anxiety. Mann-Whitney U tests were run to evaluate differences between the two levels of age (children and adolescents) and gender (boys and girls) in amount of online communication. 159 as “lonely and socially anxious”. 107 as “lonely but not socially anxious”.01 to reduce the chances of making an inflated Type I error due to the multiple comparisons. The groups corresponded to the levels of age. Frequency-based statistics were instead performed to obtain the most relevant percentages from the lists of topics. 36 . 220 participants were grouped as “non-socially anxious and non-lonely”. and purposes. and purposes of online communication. and standard deviations were used to highlight trends regarding amount of time spent communicating on the Internet. partners. medians. partners. Chi-square analysis was utilised to test for differences between group responses on topics. modes. As a result.

the median reported chatting online time was instead “1-2 hours” (Mo = 3. Topics of Online Communication Table 6 presents complete details of frequency of online communication about the topics included in the list. “sex or physical attraction”. “friends”. and 91% of all respondents indicated that they communicated on the Internet for up to 4 hours in total. “games”. “music”. “boys and/or girls”. Approximately 70% of all participants reported that they never communicated online about each of those topics. “food”. “things you have done that day”. “school time”. Additional topics that emerged from the open-ended question at the bottom of the list included “animals or pets”.95. “random stuff”.22. SD = 1. “books”. M = 1. total time chatting online yielded a median value of “between 15 minutes and one hour” (Mo = 2. and “chat lines”. and “asking someone to be your friend”. SD = 1. and “hobbies”. “asking someone to go out with you”. On an average weekend. M = 2. At least 80% of all subjects indicated that they sometimes or often chatted online about each of those topics. participants reported chatting online for a median of “3-4” days in the last week (Mo = 1. M = 2. “sportsmen or celebrities”. Topics rated most highly by respondents were “jokes or funny stories”.23). 37 .67.08). In response to questions 2-4 seeking information about duration of online communication. “Politics” was an even less popular subject with 85% of respondents reporting that they never talked about politics. “holidays”. SD = 1. on the last day participants were online the median total chat time was “between 15 minutes and one hour” (Mo = 2. M = 2. “breaking up with someone”.Chapter IV: Results Patterns of Online Communication: General Descriptives Frequency and Duration of Online Communication In response to Question 1 asking about frequency of online communication.27). On an average week day. SD = 1. and over 95% of all respondents indicated that they communicated on the Internet for up to 4 hours in total.42. Topics least frequently rated by the sample were “politics”.41).

0 4.7 624 Trivial problems 35.2 623 Things that bother you 35.0 53.3 624 68.4 38.4 56.4 5.6 11.7 623 72.6 37.2 54.5 18.0 624 Other kids 27.0 24.2 626 Relationships 31.2 622 41.2 55.6 12. of respondents Serious problems 48.2 16.3 22.5 625 Politics 85.2 5.2 19.9 625 Sports 24.9 624 Plans for social events 20.5 44.6 25.9 20.1 3.5 51.3 44.Table 6 Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never.4 624 TOPICS School work or homework Things you would not say to someone’s face Asking someone to go out with you Asking someone to be your friend Videogames and online games 38 . Sometimes or Often Communicated Online about each of the Listed Topics Never Sometimes Often No.3 39.2 48.0 624 Your health 60.1 623 Current events 24.8 34.4 5.5 34.7 37.6 16.6 621 28.9 4.1 45.1 625 Books 70.0 35.3 623 Shopping 44.5 48.7 41.6 25.4 623 Gossip/rumours 33.8 34.3 24.3 621 Teachers 59.3 26.3 48.6 27.0 48.6 625 Hobbies 19.5 15.6 22.8 17.2 625 TV programmes 23.3 20.3 625 Clothes and fashion 49.4 3.5 626 Music 17.4 624 49.

either boys or girls.6 624 Parents or family 41.6 55.8 625 Websites 29.0 4.4 44.6 49.0 35. The participants expressed a preference for communicating more often with girls (68.6 38.5 57.8 32.1 622 someone 71.2 19.3 16. Over 65% reported that they never communicated with adults they knew. of respondents Films and videos 20.5 625 Things in your past 34.9 8.2 20. Over 70% reported that they sometimes or often conversed with “family” members over the Internet but “adults” were not frequent partners of online conversation.5%).0 50.5 625 Holidays 15.3 44.1 625 Jokes or funny stories 12.2%) rather than boys (56.2 43. almost 60% of the children and adolescents said that they never chatted online with “boys or girls” who either were “not friends” or whom they had “never met”.8 51. See Table 7 for complete details of frequency of online communication with different types of partners.8 624 Your future 41. and 92% said that they never communicated with adults they had never met.6 8.9 21.2 13.3 49.7 48. By contrast. 39 .Table 6 (continued) Never Sometimes Often No.5 622 TOPICS Things related to the Breaking up with Things you have done that day Secret or confidential things Partners of Online Communication Over 90% of respondents indicated that they sometimes or often communicated online with their “friends”.1 624 15.3 625 How you feel 31.0 625 computer 39.3 10.2 24.5 623 48.8 51.

8 10.2 626 59.2 37.0 6.4 26. By contrast.6 6.2 5.0 44.1 1.6 624 65.9 626 Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family Adults you have met Adults you have never met Purposes of Online Communication The list of purposes included in five motive scales is accompanied by complete details of frequency of online communication for such purposes (see Table 8).8 9. Sometimes or Often Communicated Online with each of the Listed Partners Never Sometimes Often No.5 68. an entertainment factor was seemingly predominant.Table 7 Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never.1 625 56.9 56.9 33.2 625 56.3 624 29.3 23. However. the social inclusion factor was the least popular motive for participants to chat online: Almost 70% reported that they never talked on the Internet either “to belong to a group” or “to be 40 .5 35.3 PARTNERS 23. “Keeping in contact with friends” was the item with the highest frequency among children and adolescents: 96% stated that they sometimes or often communicated online for that purpose.7 35. of respondents 7. since “to have fun” and “because I enjoy it” were rated as the purpose of online communication by 90% of respondents.5 626 8.9 626 92.

9 41.0 626 18.7 626 For pleasure 30.5 44.4 626 PURPOSES To have something (2) Maintaining Relationships PURPOSES Never Sometimes Often No.0 44.7 625 So I don’t get bored 17.1 24.0 623 to do 15.0 70.5 40.5 40.a member of something”.4 42.2 23.9 623 4.1 46.5 625 To relax 31.4 46.9 625 To speak with my friends from real life To keep in contact with my friends To talk with friends that live far away 41 . of respondents To have fun 7.8 35. Similar ratings were found for the “because I dare to say more” item.7 45.0 26.5 42. Sometimes or Often Communicated Online for each of the Listed Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales (1) Entertainment Never Sometimes Often No. Table 8 Percentages of Respondents who Answered that they Never.4 48. of respondents 13.7 38.3 50.9 623 Because I enjoy it 9.

Table 8 (continued)

(3) Social Compensation

Never

Sometimes

Often

No. of
respondents

35.8

38.5

25.7

623

66.5

24.8

8.7

621

60.0

27.2

12.9

622

PURPOSES

Never

Sometimes

Often

No. of
respondents

To belong to a group

68.9

22.4

8.7

624

65.1

25.9

9.0

625

49.7

35.8

14.5

626

51.1

33.3

15.6

615

Never

Sometimes

Often

No. of
respondents

51.8

36.9

11.2

623

44.1

39.1

16.8

626

PURPOSES
Because I can talk
more comfortably
Because I dare to say
more
To feel less shy

(4) Social Inclusion

To be a member of
something
Because everybody
does it
To belong to my
chat friends

(5) Meeting People

PURPOSES
To get to know new
people
To make new friends

42

Age Differences in Patterns of Online Communication
Age Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication
A Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to evaluate whether there was a
significant age difference in children’s and adolescents’ amount of online
communication. The results of the test revealed a significant difference between
children and adolescents in their rankings, z(626) = -5.75, p < .001. Children (n =
286) had an average rank of 268.23, while adolescents (n = 340) had an average rank
of 351.58. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the scores for the two age groups; seven
outliers (z scores ranging from +7.06 to +7.99) have been removed from the
“children” axis.

amount of online communication_total

7.50

5.00

2.50

0.00

-2.50

-5.00

children

adolescents

Figure 1. Distribution of Scores for Amount of Online Communication

Age Differences in Topics, Partners, and Purposes of Online Communication
Two x three contingency table analyses were then conducted to evaluate
statistical differences between the two variables: age with two levels (children and
adolescents) and frequency of online communication. This considered topics,

43

partners and purposes included in the lists at three levels for each pattern of Internet
communication: never, sometimes, and often.
Topics.
Table 9 presents the results of the chi-square tests. These indicate that
frequency of online communication about specific topics differed significantly for
the two groups in 25 out of 35 instances. The significant differences were the result
of adolescents reporting communicating online more frequently than did children
about all topics except for “videogames and online games” and “asking someone to
be your friend”. Here and in the subsequent sections, “more frequently” means that
the sums of frequencies for response categories sometimes and often were higher.
Children reported a higher sum of these frequencies than did adolescents in relation
to the two topics mentioned above.

Table 9
Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online
Communication Topics
χ

TOPICS

p

2

Cramér’s
V

df

N

Serious problems

46.50

< .001**

.27

2

624

Trivial problems

33.21

< .001**

.23

2

621

42.15

< .001**

.26

2

624

8.52

.014

.12

2

624

Other kids

23.34

< .001**

.19

2

624

Plans for social events

48.71

< .001**

.28

2

623

.69

.707

.03

2

624

12.74

.002*

.14

2

621

Teachers

6.61

.037

.10

2

625

Sports

1.67

.433

.05

2

622

School work or
homework
Things you would not
say to someone’s face

Asking someone to go
out with you
Asking someone to be
your friend

44

15 2 625 Gossip/rumours 13.001 .001** .22 2 625 Websites 13.001** .86 .16 2 625 Jokes or funny stories 4.001* .06 .003* .001 Books 4.08 2 623 Shopping 9.14 2 624 Parents or family 29.01.26 2 625 Clothes and fashion 19.37 < .66 .25 2 625 Hobbies 6.006* .32 < .88 .007* .145 .18 2 623 16.001** .39 .47 < .10 2 626 Relationships 64.22 < .15 2 625 Things in your past 16.30 < .96 .001** .14 2 625 Politics 9.54 < .13 2 623 Current events 11.60 < .001* .87 .001.12 2 624 Films and videos 12.002* .39 .85 .16 2 625 TV programmes 8.36 .001** .Table 9 (continued) 2 χ TOPICS Cramér’s V p df N Videogames and online games 35.036 .015 .13 2 624 Your future 14.45 .13 2 622 Breaking up with Things you have done that day Secret or confidential things * p < .011 .24 2 622 someone 9.113 .12 2 624 Your health 37.10 < .09 2 625 Holidays 10.007* .18 2 626 Music 16.001** .15 2 625 3.72 . 45 .001** .001** .32 2 623 Things that bother you 41.47 < .60 < .08 2 625 Things related to the computer How you feel ** 36.001** .16 2 624 20.58 . **p < .087 .30 < .34 .24 2 623 * .001** .

20 < .70 . However. **p < . Children reported communicating online more frequently with their parents or siblings than did adolescents.Partners.001.001** . As illustrated by the results in Table 10.01.16 2 625 21.54 < .703 .71 .001** . adolescents reported communicating online more frequently than did children with all partners except for members of their “family”. Most remarkably within the significant differences.13 2 624 4.03 2 626 2 χ PARTNERS Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family Adults you have met Adults you have never met * p < .41 < . Table 10 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online Communication Partners p Cramér’s V df N 21.001** .092 .88 < .005* .001** .28 2 626 12.14 2 625 15.002* .19 2 624 10.76 .79 .18 2 626 49.09 2 626 . it is interesting to observe that the chi-square values were higher when the partners were females. regardless of whether they were friends or not. 46 . frequency of online communication with those partners differed significantly for children and adolescents in 6 out of 8 occasions.

238 .Purposes.05 2 626 For pleasure 2. Children reported communicating online significantly more frequently than did adolescents for a social inclusion motive.17 .71 < . adolescents indicated that they communicated online significantly more frequently than did children for an entertainment motive (“so that they did not get bored” and they could “relax”).17 2 623 to do 5. By contrast.07 2 625 So I don’t get bored 18.10 2 625 To relax 10.13 2 626 To have something 47 . See Table 11 for the results of the chi-square tests.001** . Frequency of online communication for particular purposes differed significantly for children and adolescents in 7 out of 18 cases in point.006* . Table 11 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Age in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales (1) Entertainment 2 χ PURPOSES p Cramér’s V df N To have fun .80 . in order “to be a member of something” and “to belong to a group” or their “chat friends”.30 . but above all “to get to know new people” and also “because they dared to say more” while being online.861 .27 .02 2 623 Because I enjoy it 1.531 .055 .87 .

72 < .80 .Table 11 (continued) (2) Maintaining Relationships p Cramér’s V df N 7.005* .81 .13 < .17 2 624 23.07 2 623 10.61 .74 < .130 .307 .030 .08 .055 .08 2 625 2 PURPOSES χ To speak with my friends from real life To keep in contact with my friends To talk with friends that live far away (3) Social Compensation p Cramér’s V df N 2.001** .001** .36 .13 2 621 5.04 .001** .10 2 622 p Cramér’s V df N 17.11 2 623 2.99 .16 2 615 2 χ PURPOSES Because I can talk more comfortably Because I dare to say more To feel less shy (4) Social Inclusion To belong to a group 2 χ PURPOSES To be a member of something Because everybody does it To belong to my chat friends 48 .06 2 626 4.09 2 626 15.082 .20 2 625 4.246 .

02.18 2 623 1.01. 49 .26.440 . Gender Differences in Patterns of Online Communication Gender Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication A Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to evaluate whether there was a significant gender difference in children’s and adolescents’ amount of online communication.047.05 2 626 2 χ PURPOSES To get to know new people To make new friends * p < . Boys (n = 316) had an average rank of 299.99. p = . z(626) = -1.001.Table 11 (continued) (5) Meeting People p Cramér’s V df N 19. The results of the test revealed a significant difference between boys and girls in their rankings. while girls (n = 310) had an average rank of 328.001** .64 . Figure 2 shows the distribution of the scores for the two genders.85 < . **p < .

partners and purposes included in the lists at three levels for each pattern of Internet communication: never. boys reported a higher sum of frequencies for response categories sometimes and often than did girls.50 -5. Partners. 50 . and often.50 0. Most notably within the significant differences. This considered topics. Topics.amount of online communication_total 7.00 2.50 5. Distribution of Scores for Amount of Online Communication Gender Differences in Topics. sometimes. and Purposes of Online Communication Two x three contingency table analyses were then conducted to evaluate statistical differences between the two variables: gender with two levels (boys and girls) and frequency of online communication.00 boys girls Figure 2. As shown in Table 12. For such topics.00 -2. the results of the chi-square tests indicate that frequency of online communication about specific topics differed significantly for boys and girls in 20 out of 35 occurrences. girls reported communicating online more frequently than did boys about all topics except “videogames and online games” and “sports”.

016 .86 .50 .48 2 626 ** School work or homework Things you would not say to someone’s face Asking someone to go out with you Asking someone to be your friend Videogames and online games Music 18.001** .33 < .001** .050 .001** .23 2 625 Books 2.22 .001** .43 < .931 .001** .76 .31 < .27 .83 < .12 2 624 7.15 2 621 9.27 < .17 2 625 TV programmes 3.33 < .056 .11 2 624 Trivial problems 13.19 < .45 .001** .22 2 623 Things that bother you 42.001** .83 < .88 .019 .17 2 624 Plans for social events 27.001** .20 2 625 Politics 8.06 2 623 Shopping 150.001** .174 .67 .12 < .08 2 624 51 .009* .50 .11 2 624 Other kids 18.98 .10 2 625 Sports 27.024 .14 .21 2 623 5.21 2 622 74.09 2 624 .04 2 621 Teachers 5.58 .80 < .26 2 625 Clothes and fashion 145.276 .001** .072 .12 2 624 Your health .11 < .10 2 626 Relationships 30.Table 12 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Topics 2 χ TOPICS p Cramér’s V df N Serious problems 7.35 2 623 Gossip/rumours 32.650 .49 2 623 Current events 25.001 .02 2 625 Hobbies 5.001* .

00 2 624 Parents or family 33. Table 13 shows the results of the chi-square tests.001** .943 .052 .41 .13 2 625 Things in your past 11.50 < .01 2 625 16.001** .12 .10 2 624 Your future 9.89 < .997 .07 2 625 5. girls.14 2 624 48.003* . Boys reported communicating online with same-sex “friends” and with people whom they had “never met” (boys. Girls also identified online communication with same-sex “friends” as significantly more frequent compared to boys.001.28 2 623 19.047 .001 .001** .Table 12 (continued) 2 χ TOPICS p Cramér’s V df N Films and videos .007* . or adults) significantly more frequently than did girls. 52 .18 2 625 .32 < . Frequency of online communication with those partners differed significantly for the two groups in 5 out of 8 instances. Partners. **p < .240 . females indicated that they used the Internet to communicate with “family” members significantly more frequently than did boys.001** . Moreover.99 .68 < . but in this case the difference was greater.12 .16 2 622 Breaking up with Things you have done that day Secret or confidential things Jokes or funny stories Holidays * p < .01 .31 < .85 .90 .01.23 2 625 Websites 2.10 2 625 Things related to the computer How you feel ** 59.31 2 622 someone 6.

38 2 626 .13 2 626 2 χ PARTNERS Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family Adults you have met Adults you have never met * p < .49 < . in order “to keep in contact with their friends”.65 . Purposes.70 . Conversely.07 2 625 18.265 .23 .05 2 626 10.13 2 626 90. **p < .17 2 624 16.001** .01. The significant differences suggest that boys reported communicating online more frequently than did girls only in order “to belong to a group”.001** .Table 13 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Partners p Cramér’s V df N 10. These reveal that frequency of online communication for particular purposes differed significantly for males and females in 4 out of 18 examples. even if they “lived far away”.001** .16 2 624 1.889 .428 .006* .13 .89 . Table 14 presents the results of the chi-square tests. 53 .77 < .29 < .004* . Girls also reported that they communicated online because they “enjoyed” it significantly more frequently than did boys.001. girls indicated that they communicated online more frequently than did boys for a maintaining relationships motive.02 2 625 2.

94 .252 .85 .031 .10 2 625 To relax 1.16 2 626 For pleasure 2.655 .053 .001** .04 2 623 Because I enjoy it 16.04 2 626 To have fun 2 χ PURPOSES To have something (2) Maintaining Relationships p Cramér’s V df N 2.04 .19 2 626 11.76 .21 .595 .07 2 625 So I don’t get bored 6.07 2 623 23.13 2 625 2 χ PURPOSES To speak with my friends from real life To keep in contact with my friends To talk with friends that live far away 54 .86 .Table 14 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Gender in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales (1) Entertainment p Cramér’s V df N .54 < .11 2 623 to do 5.004* .63 < .235 .001** .90 .

28 .04 2 622 p Cramér’s V df N 10.759 .101 .59 .03 2 626 2 χ PURPOSES Because I can talk more comfortably Because I dare to say more To feel less shy (4) Social Inclusion To belong to a group 2 χ PURPOSES To be a member of something Because everybody does it To belong to my chat friends (5) Meeting People 2 χ PURPOSES To get to know new people To make new friends * p < .71 .09 2 623 .528 .66 .001.556 . **p < .005* .437 .Table 14 (continued) (3) Social Compensation p Cramér’s V df N 4.702 .09 2 625 1.18 .13 2 624 4.46 .83 .482 .05 2 615 p Cramér’s V df N 1.64 . 55 .55 .05 2 626 1.089 .05 2 623 .03 2 621 1.01.

Relationships among Loneliness/Social Anxiety and Online Communication
Group Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication
A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to evaluate group differences
in amount of online communication for children and adolescents who were more or
less lonely and/or socially anxious. The independent variable, the loneliness/social
anxiety factor, included four levels corresponding to four groups: those who reported
being neither socially anxious nor lonely (group 1; n = 220), those who were socially
anxious but not lonely (group 2; n = 139), those who were lonely but not socially
anxious (group 3; n = 107), and those who were both lonely and socially anxious
(group 4; n = 159). The dependent variable was amount of online communication.
2
η

The ANOVA was significant, F(3, 621) = 4.46, p = .004,

= .02. The strength of

relationship between the two psychological constructs and total frequency and
2
η

duration of online communication, as assessed by partial

, was small, with the

loneliness/social anxiety factor accounting for about 2% of the variance of the
dependent variable.
Follow-up tests were conducted to evaluate pairwise differences among the
means. Because the standard deviations among the four groups ranged from 3.09 to
3.38, it was assumed that the variances were homogeneous. Thus, post hoc
comparisons were conducted using Tukey HSD, a test that assumes equal variances
among the four groups. There was a significant difference in the means between
group 2 and group 3. There was also a significant difference between group 2 and
group 4. Group 2 showed a decrease in amount of online communication in
comparison to the two groups. In other words, those children and adolescents who
reported being lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious
used a higher amount of online communication than those who reported being
socially anxious but not lonely. There were no significant differences in the means
between group 1 and the other three groups. The 95% confidence intervals for the
pairwise differences, as well as the means and standard deviations for the four levels
of loneliness/social anxiety, are reported in Table 15.

56

Table 15
95% Confidence Intervals of Pairwise Differences in Mean Amount of Online
Communication
LONELINESS
/ SOCIAL
ANXIETY

M

SD

Non-socially
anxious and
non-lonely

Lonely but
not socially
anxious

Non-socially
anxious and
non-lonely 1

.00

3.36

Lonely but not
socially
anxious 3

.35

3.18

-.64 to 1.35

Socially
anxious but
not lonely 2

-.83

3.09

-1.74 to .09

-2.27 to -.09*

Lonely and
socially
anxious 4

.47

3.38

-.41 to 1.35

-.93 to 1.18

Total

.00

Socially
anxious but
not lonely

3.31

.32 to 2.28*

Note. An asterisk indicates that the 95% confidence interval does not contain zero, and therefore the difference in means is
significant at the .05 significance using Tukey HSD procedure.

Group Differences in Topics, Partners, and Purposes of Online Communication
Four x three contingency table analyses were then conducted to evaluate
statistical differences between the two variables: loneliness/social anxiety with the
aforementioned four levels and frequency of online communication. This considered
topics, partners and purposes included in the lists at three levels for each pattern of
Internet communication: never, sometimes, and often. Furthermore, follow-up
pairwise comparisons were conducted within the significant results to explore the
differences among the four groups. The Holm’s sequential Bonferroni method was
used to control for Type I error at the .01 level across all six comparisons.

57

Topics.
As shown in Table 16, the results of the chi-square tests indicate that
frequency of online communication about specific topics differed significantly for
the four groups in 12 out of 35 examples. Only two follow-up pairwise differences
were not significant across any online communication topic whose p value is
significant in Table 16. These were between group 1 vs. group 2, and between group
3 vs. group 4. By contrast, however, the four other significant follow-up pairwise
differences most importantly show in summary that the lonely but not socially
anxious plus the lonely and socially anxious always reported communicating online
about such topics more frequently than did group 1 and group 2.

Table 16
Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in
terms of Online Communication Topics
p

2
χ

TOPICS

Cramér’s
V

df

N

Serious problems

37.83

< .001**

.17

6

623

Trivial problems

14.05

.029

.11

6

620

10.20

.117

.09

6

623

20.55

.002*

.13

6

623

Other kids

24.96

< .001**

.14

6

623

Plans for social events

8.27

.219

.08

6

622

13.47

.036

.10

6

623

17.62

.007*

.12

6

620

Teachers

7.84

.250

.08

6

624

Sports

5.93

.431

.07

6

621

.63

.996

.02

6

622

School work or
homework
Things you would not
say to someone’s face

Asking someone to go
out with you
Asking someone to be
your friend

Videogames and online
games

58

29 .07 6 622 Shopping 13.066 .119 .15 < .13 6 624 Hobbies 10.91 .07 6 624 TV programmes 5.481 .003* .483 . 59 .07 6 623 Films and videos 6.323 .98 .376 .57 .62 .037 .16 6 624 Clothes and fashion 6.78 .10 6 624 How you feel 40.11 6 624 computer 12.08 6 625 Music 6.001** .218 .128 .18 6 621 someone 10.70 .12 6 622 30.370 .14 6 624 Websites 14.003* .07 6 623 Parents or family 22.15 .269 .098 .001** .Table 16 (continued) 2 χ TOPICS p Cramér’s V df N Gossip/rumours 20.11 6 622 Things that bother you 30.51 .01.00 .001.13 6 624 Books 6.09 6 621 Things related to the Breaking up with Things you have done that day Secret or confidential things * p < .81 .45 .60 .001** .013 .49 .001 * .18 .13 6 623 18. **p < .15 .07 6 624 Politics 11.001* .357 .08 < .028 .09 6 623 Your future 8.08 6 624 Things in your past 19.053 .49 .44 < .09 6 625 Relationships 16.38 .08 6 624 Holidays 9.10 6 622 Current events 5.73 .44 .66 .10 6 623 Your health 21.16 6 624 Jokes or funny stories 7.005* .

07 6 625 2 χ PARTNERS Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family Adults you have met Adults you have never met * p < .497 .308 .01.81 . no significant follow-up pairwise difference was found for group 1.37 .607 .07 6 624 7.28 . Finally.07 6 624 6. group 2 reported communicating online less frequently in both comparisons.10 6 625 4.509 .Partners.13 6 625 5. That is.52 .08 6 623 4.99 .19 .403 .15 .002* . Table 17 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in terms of Online Communication Partners p Cramér’s V df N 11. the lonely but not socially anxious as well as the lonely and socially anxious reported communicating online with “adults they had met” more frequently than did those who were socially anxious but not lonely.066 . Only two follow-up pairwise differences were found significant between group 2 vs. See Table 17 for the results of the chi-square tests. group 3.657 . 60 .06 6 623 20. The results show that frequency of online communication with those partners differed significantly for the four groups in 1 out of 8 cases.14 . and between group 2 vs. In particular.06 6 625 5. group 4.

36 . group 2.13 6 625 To have something 61 . the four other significant followup pairwise differences most importantly indicate in summary that those children and adolescents who reported being lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious always indicated that they communicated online for such purposes more frequently than did group 1 and group 2.254 .09 6 622 to do 6.61 .02 . On the basis of the chisquare tests. however.08 6 624 So I don’t get bored 10. Frequency of online communication for particular purposes differed significantly for the four groups in 8 out of 18 instances.421 . Moreover.49 .106 .193 .384 .07 6 624 To relax 19.68 . the social compensation and the meeting people motives were the most relevant in accounting for the significant results. the follow-up pairwise comparison between group 4 vs.07 6 622 Because I enjoy it 7.79 . group 4.08 6 625 For pleasure 8. Table 18 Chi-Square Tests for Statistical Differences across Loneliness/Social Anxiety in terms of Online Communication Purposes Included in Five Motive Scales (1) Entertainment 2 χ PURPOSES p Cramér’s V df N To have fun 6. These were between group 1 vs. Only two follow-up pairwise differences were not significant across any online communication purpose whose p value is significant in Table 18.Purposes.003* . group 2 was found significant across all the online communication purposes with significant p values in Table 18. By contrast. and between group 3 vs.

07 6 622 8.08 6 624 2 PURPOSES χ To speak with my friends from real life To keep in contact with my friends To talk with friends that live far away (3) Social Compensation p Cramér’s V df N 33.97 .001* .23 6 621 p Cramér’s V df N 29.05 < .08 6 625 7.30 .33 < .08 6 625 21.13 6 614 2 χ PURPOSES Because I can talk more comfortably Because I dare to say more To feel less shy (4) Social Inclusion To belong to a group 2 χ PURPOSES To be a member of something Because everybody does it To belong to my chat friends 62 .08 .Table 18 (continued) (2) Maintaining Relationships p Cramér’s V df N 6.70 .001** .314 .233 .001** .001** .126 .14 6 620 65.181 .07 .001** .87 .09 6 624 8.15 6 623 9.92 < .17 6 622 24.37 < .390 .

box plots revealed no evidence of outliers.15 6 622 . West.01. 2003).001 * * p < .001. In addition. Age and gender were dichotomous nominal variables representing respectively children and adolescents. p = .13 6 625 To get to know new people To make new friends 26. it produces identical results to the ANOVA model (Cohen. & Aiken. Multicollinearity statistics were also within normal limits.72 < .001** . Cohen. the regression analysis revealed that the age factor was a significant predictor of amount of online communication (t = 3. **p < . Multiple linear regression results in a general solution applicable to a wider range of prediction problems.53 21. The regression assumptions were tested using Q-Q normality plots of the residuals. No violations of normality. boys and girls. Overall.17. 63 .387). and when the predictor or independent variables are nominal variables.002).87. while gender did not significantly predict the dependent variable (t = . p = . the model predicted significantly amount of online communication. linearity and homoscedasticity of residuals were detected. and scatter plots of the residuals against each of the independent variables and the predicted values. Age and Gender Differences in Amount (Frequency and Duration) of Online Communication within the Lonely But Not Socially Anxious plus the Lonely And Socially Anxious Groups A multiple linear regression analysis was performed between the continuous dependent variable (amount of online communication) and the predictor variables age and gender for group 3 and group 4 within the loneliness/social anxiety variable. In terms of the individual relationships between the independent variables and amount of online communication.Table 18 (continued) (5) Meeting People 2 χ PURPOSES Cramér’s V p df N .

partners and purposes included in the lists were considered in the current analyses. As previously discussed. present the results of the chi-square tests for lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious children. therefore. adolescents. Adjusted R2 = . Table 19 displays the unstandardised regression coefficients (B). Partners.40 .04. on further analysis in terms of age and gender differences within these two groups.03. and Purposes of Online Communication within the Lonely But Not Socially Anxious plus the Lonely And Socially Anxious Groups Four x three contingency table analyses were then conducted within group 3 and group 4.53 .01 level. to evaluate differences related to age and gender (layers) in terms of frequency of online communication about all the topics. the incept value.41 .03. In relation to age differences.29 .05. Taking this into account.35 . p = . and the standardised regression coefficients ( ) for each variable. 263) = 5.005. During the analysis process some surprising results were noted. * p < . all the topics.37. and for all the purposes included in the lists. and girls. β Table 19 Summary of Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Amount of Online Communication (n = 266) B SE B (Constant) -. Age and Gender Differences in Topics.39 Age 1.05 β PREDICTORS R2 = . some topics were found to be significant. The following sections.F(2. with all the partners. Type I error was controlled at the . Topics. with the adjusted R2 value for the model = . lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious children reported communicating online significantly more 64 . particular topics were not identified as significant for group 3 and group 4. boys.19* Gender . However.

lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious girls reported communicating online significantly more frequently about “other kids” and “serious problems”. and “gossip/rumours”. Lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious males and females reported communicating online significantly more frequently about “how they felt”. However. No significant age differences were found within group 3 and group 4 in terms of frequency of online communication with the partners included in the list. “jokes or funny stories”. “things that bothered them”. Lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents indicated that they communicated online significantly more frequently about “how they felt”. When discussing age differences. On the other hand. Four of these topics were not significant in Table 16.frequently about “things that bothered them” and “things they had done that day”. Partners. 65 . lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents identified online communication for the purpose of “feeling less shy” significantly more frequently. and “things they had done that day”. In relation to gender differences. “music”. “boys or girls you have never met” was not a significant item in Table 17. lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious adolescents reported communicating online significantly more frequently about “serious problems”. lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious boys reported communicating online significantly more frequently about “secret or confidential things”. lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious boys reported communicating online significantly more frequently with “adults they had met”. By contrast. With regards to gender differences. Purposes. Conversely. lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious girls identified online communication with either “boys or girls they had never met” as significantly more frequent. “parents or family”. “their health”. They also significantly more frequently reported “asking someone to go out with them” in their online communications. “films and videos”.

Finally. but in respect to the male counterpart such girls used online communication “to get to know new people”. limitations and implications of the results for future research will be considered. but also “because they could talk more comfortably” and “feel less shy”. “to belong to a group” and “to relax” were two other significant purposes of online communication for such adolescents. When discussing gender differences. the main findings of the study will be discussed. In addition. In the next chapter.Adolescents in particular indicated that they communicated online significantly more frequently also to “dare to say more” and “talk more comfortably”. The purpose of “feeling less shy” concerned lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious girls as well. 66 . lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious boys reported communicating online significantly more frequently “to belong to a group” and “their chat friends”.

2005. The next most frequently reported partners were boys or girls who adolescents had met online and had not met face-to-face. Adolescents spent more time talking to either girls or boys who were friends first encountered in offline contexts when they went online (e. The findings 67 .g.Chapter V: Discussion Age Differences in Patterns of Online Communication It was found in this study. 2007a..and 12-years-old. which become more diversified and broader because they generate mutual interest (Mesch. 2005). Foehr.. it has been shown that adolescents confide in their friends more often than children about their grievances and day-today issues. This finding is consistent with previous studies of online communication that have commonly reported that adolescents participate more than children in online communication (Lenhart et al. the more time they spent on the Internet communicating with their existing personal network. They may also have greater access to the Internet than children and realise that the Internet offers them more opportunities for discussing different topics (Livingstone & Helsper. However. whereas children most often visited chat rooms devoted to discussion of entertainment topics such as gaming for example. The results of the present study demonstrate that adolescents reported communicating online with different partners more frequently than did children. Rideout. Mesch. 2005. 2007b). First. Adolescents also communicated online on a wider range of topics and with a broader range of partners than children. 2007a). adolescents most frequently chatted online about relationships and lifestyles. an alternative reason could be that adolescents are more likely to engage in online communication because they perceive it as more controllable and deeper than face-to-face communication (Peter & Valkenburg.and 16-years-old spent more time using the Internet to communicate compared to children aged between 10. 2007b. Roberts. Valkenburg & Peter. This finding corroborates Livingstone and Bober (2005)’s finding that the older adolescents were. Livingstone & Helsper. and Brodie (1999) observed that. as expected. school or neighbourhood). Those boys or girls who adolescents did not classify as friends were in this study the least frequently cited partners for talking to online. 2006). that adolescents aged between 13. This can be explained in many ways.

1995). Valkenburg. but at the same time they still need to feel connected with their family. The results suggest that adolescents more than children are motivated to communicate online to avoid boredom or to relax. Brown. However. This finding is in contrast to earlier research on children’s and 68 . which is similar to Peter et al. Children reported that their sole purpose for using online communication was influenced by a social inclusion motive. This is further evidenced by participants in this age range expressing more frequently than children that getting to know new people was one of their purposes for communicating online. peer acceptance and feeling a sense of belonging clearly play an important role (Baumeister & Leary. as they talk with strangers or peers with whom they do not have a close connection (Peter et al. they may not necessarily intend to establish a meaningful relationship when they chat online with strangers or peers who are not their friends. for children. Thus. Online they asked someone to be their friend more frequently than did adolescents. “non-friends”.. and Furman (1999) also found that teenagers reported spending more time in person with peers of the opposite sex. 2006. Adolescents also reported more complex purposes for using online communication than did children in this study. which is evidenced by more frequent online communication with family members by this age group in comparison to the adolescent group.’s (2006) results. & Peter. teenagers expand their social circle and include more members of the opposite sex (Maccoby. The reason why adolescents in the current study communicated online with members of the opposite sex more frequently than did children may be that the Internet provides adolescents with a safer space for this social contact with existing friends. 2002). They may desire to be part of a virtual community in order to fit into the real world. 2005). 1998). With age.. the purpose of making new friends online was prompted by a need to include and be included by others into a group of chat friends. Feiring. Schouten.corroborate findings that adolescents also use the Internet to facilitate relationship formation more than children. Gender Differences in Patterns of Online Communication It was found in this study that females communicated more frequently online than males. or new peers (Gross et al. During this stage of development in particular.

which showed that more boys than girls were active users of the Internet (Subrahmanyam. However. 2001). girls reported that they went online to communicate more frequently about a wider range of topics than boys. it was found that boys reported more frequent online communication with same-sex friends as well. Harter. Kraut. Boys. 1987. The main risk boys may take is whether they eventually go to offline meetings with strangers. Buhrmester & Furman. because traditionally females were encouraged to be less assertive in conversations than were males (Costa. The literature on gender differences in friendships reports that for girls. 2006). The results of the present study are also in line with Lenhart and Madden (2007). Since online communication allows the less assertive to be heard (McKenna & Bargh. 69 . girls may perceive it as a more reciprocal forum for communication (Peter & Valkenburg. Slater et al. & McGrae. The same levels of breadth and depth were shown to be higher for females also in the present study. & Gross. 2007b. 2005). seem to accept more risks online. Another reason that girls use the Internet for communication more than boys may be that girls typically experience lower self-esteem than boys do during childhood and adolescence (Azmitia. Mesch and Talmud (2007) argued that females with lower self-esteem may feel more confident to become involved in same-sex friendships. 1999).adolescents’ Internet usage. as males are more likely to have a dispositional tendency to seek out novelty and sensations (Livingstone & Helsper. 1999). therefore. Females in this study reported more frequent online communication with friends who were girls. 2000). whereas males indicated that they communicated online with people they had never met more frequently than did females. Females also generally show higher levels of breadth (content areas) and depth (intimacy level) in their face-to-face communication than do males (McNelles & Connolly. 2004). friendship is characterised by talking and intimacy on different topics (Mesch.. Greenfield. 2002. 2001). Females may be more attracted than males to the possibility of self-disclosure in the security of the Internet environment. What really seems to make a difference between boys and girls in the current study is that females apparently self-disclosed online in a safer way. who showed that girls’ main purposes for communicating online were to reinforce pre-existing friendships and to use online communication as a bridge to friends they seldom see. Girls reported discussing personal issues online with their family more frequently than did boys. Terracciano. In the current study.

Boys may also run the risk of simply emphasising the importance of their online engagements. lower self-esteem or poor social skills (Donchi & Moore. Thus. children and adolescents who were identified as being lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious communicated online more frequently and for a longer duration than those who were only identified as socially anxious. That is. to the extent that they may cut off options for psychosocial development through the exchanges occurring in face-to-face communication with family and friends (Donchi & Moore. A possible reason that boys do not communicate as much as girls online is that friendship for boys may be more about doing things together. In fact. 2007b). Subrahmanyam et al. First. Livingstone and Helsper (2007b) argued that boys who take risks when communicating on the Internet probably come from families that do not highly value conversation. The Relationship of Loneliness and Social Anxiety with Children’s and Adolescents’ Online Communication The results of this study showed that the psychosocial characteristics of lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents were related to their usage of the Internet for communication purposes. These students reported different usage of online communication from students who were not lonely and/or socially anxious (Livingstone & Helsper. 2005). children and adolescents who self-reported being socially anxious 70 . However. boys in the current study identified videogames and online games plus sports as the only two online communication topics more frequently discussed than girls. and stereotyped (Mesch. (2001) point that one issue that has consistently stood out is the gender imbalance in playing electronic games: Males appear to spend more time playing interactive games than females do. (2005) found that children and adolescents who significantly reported lower self-esteem and less social skills tended to fake and pretend to be someone else more on the Internet. these boys may just have role played or were involved in dating online with peers they had never met. Usually their interests are more focused. narrow. It has been shown that higher numbers of regular online friendships amongst boys are related to a lack of social confidence. 2004).’s (1999) comprehensive analysis of media use among children and adolescents. Additionally. and this trend continues with the current types of home computer games. This finding has been further substantiated by Roberts et al. 2004). Harman et al.

Thus. McKenna. Valkenburg & Peter. 2008). so they manifest conversational difficulties. Through unlimited time and lack of geographic restraints. 2007). 2000). lonely children and adolescents may have a stronger motivation to replace face-to-face communication with computer-mediated communication (Papacharissi & Rubin. the non-lonely and non-socially anxious. 2003). children and adolescents reporting this condition can also alter their presentation online by presenting more idealised versions of self as well as role-playing different online personae (Kiesler et al.but not lonely spent the least time online in comparison to the other groups of children and adolescents. they can practise their weaker social skills and find it even easier online to meet similar others compared to face-to-face settings (Bonebrake. they may perceive online disinhibition as liberating (Morahan-Martin & Schumacher. As a consequence. Due to the reduced role constraints and social status cues compared to face-to-face communication. they can open up more easily (McKenna & Bargh. 1984. lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents also reported communicating online more frequently about certain topics and for certain purposes in comparison to typically developing and socially anxious children and adolescents. Depersonalisation due to lack of nonverbal involvement and lack of physical presence/attractiveness of a partner are other attributes of using online communication that allow lonely children and adolescents to better express their real selves with others. 2003). although 71 . They are highly attracted to it because they perceive benefits from its usage (Morahan-Martin & Schumacher. 2004). less enjoyment. the finding that those children and adolescents who self-identify as lonely use the Internet more than others partially supports the social compensation hypothesis. 2000). 2007b). they have poor interpersonal competencies. 2007). people who are mainly lonely have an individual predisposition of having problems with self-disclosure and intimacy and feeling isolated from others. Due to the relative anonymity and the reduced auditory and visual cues of the Internet (Peter et al... 2002. Mesch & Talmud. they typically engage in fewer social situations and have fewer close friends than their normatively adjusted peers. Therefore. Second. As Suler (2004) states. Like shy individuals. 1998. which proposes that especially socially anxious and/or lonely people turn to online communication in preference to face-to-face communication (Valkenburg & Peter. Thus. or feelings of awkwardness and rejection in real-life social interactions (Ward & Tracey.

44). lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents seemed to take this opportunity seriously. and “your health”). p. 2002). and “secret or confidential things” are vaguely defined so their meanings should be clarified with a combined qualitative approach (Livingstone. “things that bother you”. “secret or confidential things”. social compensation. dare to say more. Lonely and socially anxious participants asked people on the Internet to become their friends more frequently than did the other groups of 72 . (2005) found that the social compensation motive facilitated online friendship formation. because they have the chance to exchange secrets and disclose personal and intimate aspects of their lives (Livingstone & Helsper. the closer they became. “how you feel”. Moreover. Lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious participants in this study more frequently may have turned to online communication to compensate lacking social skills.g. Peter et al. The results did not show any difference between lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents and typically developing ones in relation to topics such as media or school... 2003). and “gossip/rumours”). The more time these children and adolescents spent interacting online with someone. Topics such as “serious problems”. Additionally. The results indicated that lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious participants communicated online more frequently about personal things (e. and the more new relationships they were likely to form with other persons as well (Bonebrake. A correspondence was found between those topics and the main motive. “serious problems”. people around them who have an influence on their everyday lives (e. “other kids” and “parents or family”). and about their present and past life but not their future. social and cultural life.disinhibition is just “an apparent reduction in concerns for self-presentation and the judgement of others” (Joinson. However.g.. “things you would not say to someone’s face”. because they failed to report communicating online about jokes or funny stories more frequently than did the other groups. it seems that these children and adolescents have come to particularly value the Internet as a communicative “protected” environment in which they find conversation satisfying and feel confident. 1998. and feel less shy. This way they could talk more comfortably. 2007b). “things that bother you”.g. “things you would not say to someone’s face”. intimate topics (e. no differences were found among the other online communication topics that emerged from the open-ended question.

or feel less tense (Rubin et al. for example. If getting to know new people. rather. 1988). but also to relax. Lonely children and adolescents in particular may do so because they have a low sense of belonging to their own neighbourhood or school community (Pretty. boys. This intuitive assumption has been substantiated by Gross et al. more frequently than the other two groups.’s (2002) influential study. was one of the key purposes for communicating online for lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents.respondents. Lonely people may need to belong to or include similar others in a circle of friends (Rubin et al. so that they can all become part of a community which the Internet may bring out into the world of people (Leung. 1994). Leung (2007) argues that the more lonely children and adolescents perceive that the Internet helps them feel relaxed. then it could be expected that these children and adolescents would more likely engage with partners who would not be their friends but. even partially. In this study. as previously illustrated. They may also communicate online because they have a need to unwind. relaxation). and Rubin (1998).. therefore. Andrewes. both of them are media-specific communication motives that in turn are associated with interpersonal communication motives such as social inclusion and entertainment (or. these two motives were significant for lonely but not socially anxious as well as for lonely and socially anxious respondents. girls or adults they had never met. rest. Hence. they may be motivated to choose the Internet for seeking entertainment or comfort aimed at regulating their moods. These children and adolescents turned to online communication to belong to a group and their chat friends. According to the classification by Flaherty. However. the more they are confident that it provides a constantly accessible social support for stressful life events that they experience. & Collet. Pearce. 1988). as they did not report communicating online to keep in touch with their existing friends –regardless of where these livedmore frequently than did the other groups. These authors found that those participants aged 11-13-years (N = 130) who reported feeling lonely or socially anxious in school on a daily basis were more likely to communicate online with strangers. The social compensation and the meeting people motives are related to each other. Lonely and socially anxious children and adolescents were motivated to use the Internet more for forming rather than maintaining relationships. 2002). they also fulfilled the meeting people motive.. the results of the present study 73 .

surprisingly showed that lonely but not socially anxious as well as lonely and socially anxious respondents reported communicating online more frequently with adults they had met. First. Second. males who reported being mostly lonely used online communication in particular to self-disclose about personal/intimate topics or media coherently with social inclusion and social compensation motives. The influence of loneliness and social anxiety on the types of online communication partners was not as strong as it appeared to be on online communication topics and purposes. sample. those who are mainly lonely may be encouraged to selfdisclose with known adults online. or after their usage of the Internet for communication purposes cannot be drawn. Finally. Further investigation may reveal why and about what online communication occurred between these people. lonely females used online communication in particular to get to know people they had never met. misunderstood or less privileged than girls in social situations (Peter & Valkenburg. By contrast. the data were cross-sectional. there was a difference between genders for lonely but not socially anxious plus lonely and socially anxious individuals. It cannot not be 74 . they may have not known these adults well. First. Limitations and Future Directions There are some limitations that should be considered when drawing conclusions from this study and be addressed in future research. research methodology. Inferences about whether loneliness and/or social anxiety reported by this sample occurred before. 2006). nevertheless. Alternatively. These pertain to the procedure. That implies that these adults at least were not new people to the respondents. These results suggest that males are essentially lonely because they may feel ignored. so they may have been motivated to get to know them better and make friends or seek their advice. and measures. it was found that boys within these groups indicated that they communicated online more frequently with adults they had met. the results indicate that lonely children and adolescents in general have at least two basic but important needs that they attempt to fulfil through online communication: the needs to disclose feelings and to overcome shyness. after establishing trust through face-to-face communication. Surprisingly. during.

Applications or generalisability of the results from this study to the whole population of Australian children and adolescents communicating online and/or other populations may not be justified. help to create. in order to prevent the risk of obtaining misleading findings (Valkenburg & Peter. family. therefore. 2005). future research should replicate the present study and/or focus on cross-national comparisons (Leung. However. Ybarra. that is. quantitative survey methodology was used. however. Second. future longitudinal studies would be better equipped to address this important cause-and-effect (or. Third. 2007a). Also. participants could be asked open-ended questions about their life situations such as school. & Mitchell. Cronbach’s alpha reliabilities for the list of partners of online communication and for some of the 75 . 2007). 2007a). Future research. Future research should therefore examine relational communication in separate online environments. the way people communicate through them is still different due to the distinction of technologies of the software (Hu. 2006). due to the fact that most schools accessed to recruit participants were independently run. 2003. in order to draw inferences of their psychosocial well-being.. Therefore.said that these conditions caused children and adolescents to turn to online communication. causal-correlational) issue (Leung. a non-probabilistic convenience sample limited to Australia was used. Participants. 2002. Therefore.. Alexander. Valkenburg & Peter. Uses of different online applications were combined in this survey. Fourth. a mixed-method approach incorporating both quantitative and qualitative methods is likely to be more appropriate for studying the multifaceted relationship between Internet use and wellbeing. This approach allowed investigating general patterns of online communication used by participants with self-reported loneliness and/or social anxiety in comparison with participants who did not report significant loneliness and/or social anxiety. However. should be asked whether they seek out relationships online to enhance. the instrumentation used in this study presented challenges. could consider using an in-depth interview to complement survey data. rather. the socio-economic status of this sample was higher in comparison with the Australian population. 2002). and personal relationships (Wang. For example. to isolate themselves (Scealy et al. or in preference to/substitute their offline networks. because it is not possible to determine whether these were long-term or transient problems (Wolak et al. 2002).

this may have weakened the analyses in some respects. although there may be scientific and ethical issues associated with this (Mazalin & Moore. 2004). identity exploration and social interactions on which their well-being remarkably depends (Gross. 2004). the findings of the current study indicate that those who reported being lonely used patterns of online communication differently from those who did not report being lonely. However. 2003). In particular. they may have yielded likelihood of demand effect.. Items that participants may have felt would lead the researcher to perceive them as lonely and/or socially anxious. However. it was not possible to compare participants’ actual characteristics with their reported characteristics. future research is encouraged to be aware of the low levels of internal consistency revealed by these measures.motive scales were not as high as desired. the lonely are likely to fulfil online needs of self-disclosure. Computer tracking of log-on times would be a more accurate observational method. it can only be assumed that most participants were candid and provided truthful responses (Wolak et al. Overall. 2000). the Internet allows them to construct and deal with 76 . 2004). partners. was to understand the relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication. such measures of Internet use were self-reported and thus may have been subject to selective recall and prone to forgetfulness (Reis & Gable. That is. Conclusion The main purpose of this exploratory research. built on the study of Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). Frequency and duration of online communication were assessed using categories in order to assist participants in the approximation of responses (Mazalin & Moore. the current study used entirely self-reported data from respondents. Therefore. Because of the need to preserve their anonymity. Consequently. Shortened versions of the loneliness and social anxiety scales were employed to further the study conducted by Valkenburg and Peter (2007b). and purposes). In conclusion. Another potential criticism is that this study did not present exhaustive lists of categories for the other patterns of online communication (topics. Although the scales were abbreviated. 2002). may have resulted in them responding in a biased manner that would indicate the opposite and be socially acceptable (Pawlak.

Age and gender differences in usage of such patterns were further found not only across the entire sample of participants.the same developmental issues that they have in their real lives (Subrahmanyam. Smahel. It is imperative that such adults. & Schouten. so what is known today may not be valid in the future (Moody. Complicating the issue is the fact that online communication technologies are rather new and will continue to advance rapidly. identify and monitor these troubled individuals 77 . the question is: “What is then the long-term effect over the course of their development. Since it is essential to comprehend whether lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents really use the Internet to alleviate their depressed feelings or just as a means to escape them. & Greenfield. and compare them with the quality of their face-to-face relationships (Valkenburg. 2003). 2006). the present study partially supported the social compensation hypothesis (Valkenburg & Peter. parents. 2007). Future research should include measures on the quality of their online relationships. In attempting to conceptualise the developmental difficulties that lonely and/or socially anxious children and adolescents face. 2001) Such questions were raised after Ward and Tracey (2004) found that online relationships do not appear to be a panacea for greater relationship satisfaction. Little research has in fact hypothesised variables that may mediate the relationship between Internet use and well-being (Valkenburg & Peter. but also within the lonely themselves. however. Internet communication has become an integral part of children’s and adolescents’ psychosocial context (Subrahmanyam & Lin. as well as expand the study of Internet communication among children and adolescents with other disabling conditions (Stroschein. it would appear that further study of online communication among these vulnerable individuals is warranted on this issue. support. 2003). however. or will they tend to integrate their social skills acquired online into their offline lives?” (Moody. school counsellors. Peter. clinicians. 2001). 2006). and educators on the other hand may therefore need to include Internet use as a factor in explaining their behavioural issues (Dittmann. Additionally. as social anxiety was not related to online communication as clearly as loneliness was. or engagement. especially with regards to those who are lonely and/or socially anxious?” “Will they continue to use online communication heavily. 2006). 2007a). teachers. Research should also investigate underlying psychosocial factors related to loneliness and/or social anxiety (Dittmann. 2007b).

Finally. at the same time it is important that such adults be informed of the drawbacks of online communication (Pelling. this research contributes to the literature of online communication use and its psychosocial consequences.. online relationships can help to understand communication as a whole process (Pornsakulvanich. Most notably. or above all whether these NetGeners (Tapscott. 78 . Furthermore. 2003). in order to prevent them from encountering possible risks on the Internet. Liau et al. Wolak et al. Asche.. they should be concerned about whether the lonely and/or socially anxious Net-Generation may adopt faking/hostile behaviours online (Livingstone & Helsper. For example. 1998) give out online personal information to strangers whom they eventually go to offline meetings with (Beebe. 2001). 2007. Harrison. as well as educate them on a beneficial and safe use of the Internet (Pelling. however. 2005). 2005). 2004).carefully. This way parents or professionals would help strengthen lonely and/or socially anxious children’s and adolescents’ communication skills. & Quinlan. Adults. differences in usage of online communication between people who are lonely aid understanding of the relationship of personality variables with Internet use (Weiser. 2004). should not be afraid to ask them about their Internet use and prompt them to discuss the kinds of online relationships that they are involved in (Subrahmanyam & Lin. 2004. 2007b).

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Please answer all questions as honestly as you can. you can change your mind now if you like.Appendix A We are asking you these questions because we want to know about young people’s use of online communication. All people are different. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON THIS QUESTIONNAIRE. THIS MEANS THAT ONLY THE RESEARCHERS WILL SEE YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE. GRADE YOUR AGE SCHOOL ………………………………………… ……………………… GIRL OR BOY What is your father’s current job (or his most recent job if he is not currently working)? What is your mother’s current job (or her most recent job if she is not currently working)? How many brothers and sisters do you have in total? 93 . although we hope you will help us by answering these questions. There are no right or wrong answers. YOUR ANSWERS ARE CONFIDENTIAL. You and your parents or caregivers have already agreed to complete this questionnaire but.

Less than 15 minutes Between 15 minutes and one hour 1-2 hours 3-4 hours More than 4 hours 94 □ □ □ □ □ . ICUii etc. and chatting on role-play games (RuneScape etc. Facebook. computer programs (ICQ. On an average weekend.). □ □ □ □ □ None 1-2 3-4 5-6 Every day 2. Bebo etc.ONLINE COMMUNICATION QUESTIONNAIRE ONLINE CHAT refers to different ways of using the Internet to communicate with other people using tools such as: Instant Messaging applications (nineMSN/Windows Live Messenger.). 1. Less than 15 minutes Between 15 minutes and one hour 1-2 hours 3-4 hours More than 4 hours □ □ □ □ □ 3. On an average week day. Yahoo! Etc.). BigPond. approximately how long in total do you chat online? TICK ONE BOX ONLY. How many days in the past week have you been online to chat? TICK ONE BOX ONLY. approximately how long in total do you chat online? TICK ONE BOX ONLY. social networking websites (MySpace. Less than 15 minutes Between 15 minutes and one hour 1-2 hours 3-4 hours More than 4 hours □ □ □ □ □ 4. approximately how long did you chat in total? TICK ONE BOX ONLY.). On the last day you were online.

education. What do you chat about online? TICK ALL THAT APPLY (TICK “NEVER” IF YOU DO NOT APPLY) Never Serious problems Trivial problems (not very important ones) School work or homework Things you wouldn’t say to someone’s face Other kids Plans for social events Asking someone to go out with you Asking someone to be your friend Teachers Sports Videogames and online games Gossip/rumours Books Shopping Current events Politics Your health Hobbies Relationships Things that bother you (fears.g.. jobs) Things in your past Things you’ve done that day Secret or confidential things Jokes or funny stories Holidays TELL US OTHER THINGS YOU CHAT ABOUT ONLINE THAT ARE NOT ON THIS LIST If there are any. frustrations) Clothes and fashion Music TV programmes Films and videos Parents or family Websites Things related to the computer How you feel Breaking up with someone Your future (e.5. please write them below and tick 95 Sometimes Often .

Please tick to indicate how often you chat with the following people on line: Never Sometimes Often Friends who are boys Friends who are girls Boys who are not friends Girls who are not friends Boys or girls you have never met Family: parents. Adults you have met Adults you have never met 7. cousins etc. Please tick to indicate how often you chat online for each of these reasons: Never To have fun To keep in contact with my friends To make new friends Because I enjoy it To belong to my chat friends To talk with friends that live far away To be a member of something To get to know new people For pleasure So I don’t get bored To relax To have something to do To speak with my friends from real life Because I can talk more comfortably To belong to a group Because I dare to say more To feel less shy Because everybody does it 96 Sometimes Often . brothers/sisters. Here are some reasons people give for communicating online.6.

The following statements describe how people sometimes feel. Please check that you have answered all the questions. I feel nervous when I’m around certain people. I get nervous when I meet new people. Please tick the box that indicates how true the statement is for you. 9. I feel shy around people I don’t know. Never Rarely Sometimes How often do you feel that there is no one you can turn to? How often do you feel alone? How often do you feel that you are no longer close to anyone? How often do you feel that no one really knows you well? How often do you feel isolated from others Thank you for completing the questionnaire. 97 Always . please tick the box that indicates how often you feel this way. We appreciate your help with this important research. I get nervous when I talk to other kids I don’t know very well.True all the Time Often True Sometimes True Occasionally True Not at all True 8. For each statement.