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The Influence of Parent-Child Attachment on Adolescents Internet Addiction

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The Influence of Parent-child Attachment on Adolescents Internet Addiction

Jin Yan

Central China Normal University


Abstract

As the first close relationship formed after individual birth, parent-child attachment has great effect on children’s development. Recently years, due to the universality of Internet use among adolescents, the severity of the Internet addiction among adolescents, the negative effects of Internet addiction on adolescents’ psychical and psychological health, the influence of parent-child attachment on adolescent Internet addiction has received interest among researchers. The preceding studies found that secure parent-child attachment can reduce the possibility of adolescent Internet addiction by moderate parental monitoring and psychological support. Respectively, moderate monitoring can prevent children from Internet addiction by making up for the defect of self-control. The psychological support from parents can fulfill adolescents’ emotional and psychological need so that children don’t need to regard Internet as a haven. Moreover, recently, some researchers have noted that father-child attachment and mother-child attachment play different roles in children Internet addiction. Above all, the existing research make a rather complete analysis on the influence of parent-child attachment on adolescent Internet addiction, which has great significance for preventing that problem.

Keywords: parent-child attachment, Internet addiction, adolescent


The Influence of Parent-child Attachment on Adolescents Internet Addiction

Parent-child attachment is the first close personal relationship formed after individual birth, which has great effect on the subsequent mental health and social adaption of individual. Recently years, due to the universality of Internet use among adolescents, the severity of the Internet addiction among adolescents, the negative effects of Internet addiction on adolescents’ psychical and psychological health, personality development and academic development, the influence of parent-child attachment on adolescent Internet addiction has received great interest among researchers. An impressive body of literature indicates that secure parent-child attachment can reduce the possibility of adolescent Internet addiction. For example, Deng, Fang, Wu, Zhang, and Liu (2013) found that the quality of parent-child attachment of Internet addicted adolescents is significantly lower than non-addicted adolescents and the higher quality of parent-child attachment, the lower probability of internet addiction. In addition, Siomos and Floros (2012) found that parent-child attachment can better predict the Internet addiction than the direct control of parents (for example, the security practices).

About how secure parent-child attachment preventing children from Internet addiction, the preceding studies have analyzed the influence from the perspective of the parental monitoring and psychological support profoundly. Moreover, in view of the different roles of fathers and mothers play in families, some researchers started to study the difference influence of mother-child attachment and father-child attachment, which provides a new perspective on this topic.

Self-control is always with abundant ego-depletion, adolescents with the deficit of self-control are vulnerable to be indulged in Internet (He, Xia, Jiang, & Wei, 2012). According to the parent monitoring, nice parent-child attachment can make up for the self-control by moderate monitoring function (Lei, 2012). It can prevent adolescents from being involved with deviant peers and in delinquent behavior (Kerr & Stattin, 2000). In addition, even if parents don’t stay with children, children with secure attachment to parents refrain from temptations and misconducts to avoid disappointing their parents (Kerr et al., 2000). Furthermore, empirical research has shown that the effects of parental control on adolescents’ problematic Internet use (PIU) were mediated by self-control, i.e. moderate parental control may reduce the risk of PIU by improving adolescents’ self-control (Li, Li, & Newman, 2013).

According to the attachment theory, security, trust, and mutual understanding in the parent-child relationship is related to positive outcomes. Nice parent-child attachment can fulfill adolescents’ emotional and psychological need, so that they don’t need to get online to avoid back and forth reality or alleviate bad feelings, but solve problems by realistic efforts (Chen, Li, Bao, Yan, & Zhou, 2015; Lei, 2012). And the individuals with secure attachments are able to cope better with pressure, have stronger self-efficacy and trust in others, which can let them keep more positive attitudes towards life and have long-term eyes rather than carpe diem (Chen et al., 2015).

On the contrary, the individual with insecure attachment are at high risk for maladaptation and they might regard the Internet as their new attachment figure or seek new attachment figures through the Internet and therefore result in the Internet addiction (Lei & Wu, 2007). In the emotional aspect, the adolescents with insecure attachment, for instance the adolescents who conflicts with parents frequently or feel less care and love from parents are at higher risk for depression (Laible, Carlo, & Raffaelli, 2000). According to the acting out theory, depression not only brings negative influence to adolescents, but also results in problem behavior as the externalization of the internal depression. Research by Chen et al. (2013) found that the depression significantly predicted the level of Internet addiction. So, that suggest that the negative association between parent-child attachment and Internet addiction is also mediated by depression.

Although nowadays, in most cases, mothers serve as the primary caregiver during childhood, as children grow old, the influence of father on children’s behavior and cognitive and emotional development becomes the equivalent of that of mothers. So we can’t ignore the impact of father-child attachment on adolescent Internet addiction. It’s worthwhile noting that the parental roles of fathers and mothers were quite different.

Generally, mothers provide care and tenderness (Lei et al., 2007), so the emotional attachment to mothers is more important to children (Deng et al., 2013). Unlike mothers, fathers always represented authority and discipline (Lei et al., 2007). The trust and guidance from fathers play important roles in the children’s development of autonomy and the preparation for the outside world. Previous studies have shown that the high quality of father-child attachment, instead of the high quality of mother-child attachment, contribute to adolescents’ good adaptability, efficient coping strategies, good socioemotional competence, and good social interaction among peers (Lei et al., 2007).

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