Fathers Have Big Influence on Adolescents’ Internet Use

Pathological Internet use (PIU) or Internet addiction is becoming an increasingly common issue among adults and adolescents. In China, Internet use among adolescents has increased dramatically in recent years. Therefore, it is important to gauge PIU and understand the mechanisms and factors that lead to PIU in adolescents.

In an attempt to obtain more insight into how PIU develops and what influences PIU in adolescents, Qin-Xue Liu of the Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior at the Ministry of Education in China recently assessed data from over 4,500 school children ranging in age from 12 to 21 years old. The participants were asked about their Internet use, their perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ Internet use, and their perceptions of their relationships with their parents individually.

The results revealed that gender had a significant effect on PIU for the participants and also for the perceptions they had of PIU for their parents. First, girls felt their mothers used the Internet more than their fathers. They also reported having better relationships with both parents than the boys did, but especially with their mothers. This suggests that girls are more emotionally involved and in tune with their parents and with mothers; they may have a higher level of trust and disclosure.

For boys and girls, mother-child relationships were stronger and closer than father-child relationships. Some explanations for this could be the fact that mothers are generally more involved in parenting adolescents, are more aware of their children’s emotions than fathers, and are more nurturing.

Liu found that perceived Internet use by the mothers predicted increased PIU for the boys and girls but that a strong father-son relationship decreased this effect for boys. In fact, the girls and the boys both benefited from perceptions of positive father-child relationship.

Although other research suggests that girls are more heavily influenced by their parents’ behaviors than boys, this study suggests when it comes to a father’s influence, the effect is equally powerful for both girls and boys. Liu added, “Fathers need to pay particular attention to the way they interact with their adolescent children, for what adolescents perceive in their relationship significantly affects their behavior and choices.”

Reference:
Liu, Q.-X., Fang, X.-Y., Zhou, Z.-K., Zhang, J.-T., Deng, L.-Y. (2013). Perceived parent-adolescent relationship, perceived parental online behaviors and pathological Internet use among adolescents: Gender-specific differences. PLoS ONE 8(9): e75642. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075642

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  • Claudette

    Claudette

    October 30th, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    I would absolutely hate it if either of my kids felt like they needed to use the computer as some sort of substitute for something that they were missing from either their father or from me!

    Parents of kids this age have to know that adolescents and teens are going to take a whole lot of time and energy, but that is why God gave them parents. .. to believe in them, to support them, to love and nurture them when they need us.

    I don’t want my child feeling as if he has to go to some piece of technology looking for something that he feels like he is missing at home. I would feel like the worst mom in the world if I thought that my kids ever thought this way or that I had made them feel like that.

  • les

    les

    October 31st, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    Shouldn’t we point out that BOTH parents are equally responsible for the outcome of their children? I don’t think that it’s quite fair to say that one or the other has more influence.

  • Samuel

    Samuel

    November 1st, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    I grew up without a dad so I wouldn’t really have a clear idea about how many ways having a father in your life could influence you. I know that for me having a very strong mother in the house was what did it for me, and showed me the ways that you are supposed to engage and interact with your kids, even when you have to work three jobs, it is still important to make time for the family. I always knew that everything that she did was for us and I I have come to apprecaite that more and more over the years. I hope that I can have the same kind of positive influence over my own children someday and that it won’t all boil down to computer time, that they will think about me far beyond those kinds pf parameters.

  • Ali

    Ali

    November 6th, 2013 at 4:53 AM

    Haven’t you seem those families who are out to dinner and one parent or the other is on their phone or doing anything that doesn’t involve the kids? That always makes me sad because this is supposed to be the younger kids’ models for how to interact and behave and the parents are sitting there ignoring the children and still focusing only on themselves. That makes me sad for those families, because how are those kids ever supposed to have a real relationship with these people who won’t even give up a little time at dinner for them?

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