Masters Thesis

Relationships between Internet Use, Type of Social Support, and Emotional Distress

Since the advent of the Internet, researchers have sought to determine whether the Internet may advance users’ well-being or if Internet use is associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including emotional distress. Additionally, although social support literature tends to indicate that social support is associated with increased emotional well-being, the research on the impact of social support on the relationship between Internet use and depression has yielded inconclusive results. Existing literature also neglects the role that offline social support and the different types of social support (emotional, companionship, informational, and tangible) have on this relationship. the current study sought to explore the relationships between Internet use, types of offline social support, and depression. a sample of 164 undergraduate students at California State University, Fullerton completed a series of measures of their Internet use patterns, perceived offline social support, and depression. Results of a linear regression indicated that Internet use did not significantly predict levels of depression. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that all types of social support (emotional, companionship, informational, and tangible) did not moderate an Internet use-depression relationship. However, all types of offline social support were found to be significant predictors of depression. Specifically, increases in the various types of social support were positively associated with depression. Findings of this study are in direct opposition with prior research. Possible explanations for this discrepancy are discussed.

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