Avoidance or boredom: Negative mental health outcomes associated with use of Information and Communication Technologies depend on users' motivations

Tayana Panova, Alejandro Lleras

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

Previous research shows that high Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use is associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, and overall psychological distress; however, there are few relevant studies on this topic. The current study was conducted to explore the relationship between Internet and mobile phone use and mental health. In Study 1, participants were given questionnaires to assess their manner of mobile phone and Internet use and their levels of depression and anxiety. There were strong positive relationships between lower mental health and problematic ICT use, especially when people turned to ICTs to avoid negative experiences or feelings. However, when participants used ICTs merely to escape boredom, no link was found between ICT use and mental health problems. Study 2 was completed to observe how students utilize their mobile phones to cope or escape from feelings related to an anxiety-inducing situation. Results indicated that the mobile phone may offer a small "security blanket" effect, lowering the initial negative reaction to stress, although the pattern of stress over the course of the experiment was the same for participants in all groups. Our findings suggest that long term utilization of ICTs as an emotional coping strategy may have a negative influence on mental health and/or exacerbate mental health predispositions.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages249-258
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Fingerprint

Boredom
Motivation
Mental Health
Communication
Technology
Avoidance
Information and Communication Technology
Mobile phones
Cell Phones
Mobile Phone
Anxiety
Internet
Emotions
Depression
World Wide Web
Medical problems
Students
Experiments
Psychology
Research

Keywords

  • Avoidance coping
  • Escapism
  • Internet
  • Mental health
  • Mobile phones
  • Smartphones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

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