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through the mediation effects of negative relating to others and sadness
Argyroula E. Kalaitzakia,⁎, John Birtchnellb
aSocial Work Department, Health and Social Welfare School, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Estavromenos, P.O. Box 1939, GR 71004 Iraklio, Crete Greece
bInstitute of Psychiatry, King's College London, 16 De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK
H I G H L I G H T S
• The Greek-translated Internet Addiction Test is a three-dimensional instrument.
• A small proportion of the young adults (1%) were severely addicted to Internet.
• Negative relating mediates the path from father's parenting to Internet addiction.
• Sadness mediates the path from mother's parenting to Internet addiction.
a b s t r a c ta r t i c l ei n f o
Parental rearing styles
Problematic Internet use
Structural Equation Modeling
The aim of the present study is the investigation of the potential role of negative relating to others, perceived
loneliness, sadness, and anxiety, as mediators of the association between early parental bonding and adult Inter-
net Addiction (IA). The factorial structure of the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and the prevalence rates of it in a
Greek sample will alsobeinvestigated. A total of 774 participantswererecruitedfrom a Technological Education
Institute (mean age = 20.2, SD = 2.8) and from high school technical schools (mean age = 19.9, SD = 7.4).
The IAT wasusedtomeasure thedegreeofproblematicInternetusebehaviors;theParentalBonding Instrument
was used to assess one's recalled parenting experiences during the first 16 years of life; the shortened Person's
Relating to Others Questionnaire was used to assess one's negative (i.e. maladaptive) relating to others (NRO).
Both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the three-factor structure of the IAT. Only 1.0% of
the sample was severely addicted to the Internet. The mediated effects of only the NRO and sadness were con-
firmed. Negative relating to others was found to fully mediate the effect of both the father's optimal parenting
and affectionless control on IA, whereas sadness was found to fully mediate the effect of the mother's optimal
parenting on IA. Overall, the results suggest that parenting style has an indirect impact on IA, through the medi-
ating role of negative relating to others or sadness in later life. Both family-based and individual-based preven-
tion and intervention efforts may reduce the incidence of IA.
© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Internet addiction(IA) hasemerged asa rapidlygrowingproblem in
young people. Although official diagnostic criteria do not exist yet, IA
can be defined as the excessive, obsessive–compulsive, uncontrollable,
tolerance-causing use of the Internet, which also causes significant
distress and impairments in daily functioning (Young, 1998, 1999).
Adolescents and young adults (e.g., college/university students)
have been shown to be at risk of IA (Tsai & Lin, 2003). European
prevalence estimates of IA vary widely in both adolescents (1% to 11%;
Floros, Fisoun, & Siomos, 2010) and college students (6% to 35%;
Frangos, Frangos, & Sotiropoulos, 2011; Ni, Yan, Chen, & Liu, 2009).
Greek literature also lacks consensus; rates range from 1.5% (Kormas,
Critselis, Janikian, Kafetzis, & Tsitsika, 2011) to 8.2% (Siomos, Dafouli,
Braimiotis, Mouzas, & Angelopoulos, 2008). Internationally young
addicts are predominantly male (Stavropoulos, Alexandraki, and Motti-
Stefanidi, 2013; Widyanto & Griffiths, 2006).
The interpersonal factors that are associated with IA have received a
of problematic Internet use proposes that preference for online social
interaction, rather than traditional face to face interaction, is a conse-
quence of one's self-perception of social incompetence (Caplan, 2005).
Studies have shown that a poor quality of interpersonal relationships
may predispose adolescents to anincreased riskof problematic Internet
use (Milani, Osualdella, & Di Blasio, 2009). A positive association has
Addictive Behaviors 39 (2014) 733–736
to others; PBI, Parental Bonding Instrument; PROQ3, the shortened Person's Relating to
⁎ Corresponding author at: 08 Kapodistriou Str., Rethymnon, 74100 Crete, Greece.
Tel.: +30 2831055072.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (A.E. Kalaitzaki),
email@example.com (J. Birtchnell).
0306-4603/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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also been found between IA and social withdrawal/isolation (Douglas
et al., 2008), low social self-efficacy (Iskender & Akin, 2010), and loneli-
ness (Bozoglan, Demirer, & Sahin, 2013; Xiuqin et al., 2010). Anxiety
(e.g., Shepherd & Edelmann, 2005) and depression have also been pos-
itively correlated with problematic Internet use (Dalbudak et al., 2013).
To the authors' knowledge, few studies as yet have assessed the role
of self-perceived parenting style with IA (Floros & Siomos, 2013; Floros,
Siomos, Fisoun, Dafouli, & Geroukalis, 2013; Xiuqin et al., 2010).
Siomos et al. (2012) showed that parental bonding variables were the
best predictors for IA. A widely-held assumption is that the early attach-
ment patterns tend to be stable over time and predictive of an adult's in-
terpersonal relationships with others (Bowlby, 1988; Phillips et al.,
2013). In other words, an anxiously attached child will continue to
(low care and high protection) is the most dysfunctional and harmful
parenting style, which is likely to bring about interpersonal incompe-
tencies in adult life (Bowlby, 1988).
Equally important to note is the association of a parental rearing style
In all, based upon these previous findings, it would be reasonable to as-
sume that early parenting bonding is likely to predispose an individual
sadness, and anxiety, which, in turn, may lead to the development of IA.
To the authors' knowledge, no one study to date has tried to examine
such a link before.
The present study first aims to test (1) the unidimensionality of the
of parenting bonding upon the IA, through the mediating role of NRO,
indirect relationship between maternal and paternal optimal parenting
styles and a positive indirect relationship between the maternal and
paternal adverse parenting styles (i.e., affectionless control) and IA that
is mediated by NRO, loneliness, sadness, and anxiety.
2.1. Participants and procedures
Overall 774 participants were recruited: of these 62.9% were under-
graduate students from the Technological Education Institute of Crete
(27.5% were men and 72.5% were women; the mean age was 20.2,
SD = 2.8).Theremaining37.1%werehighschoolstudentsfromtechni-
cal education schools (32.7% were men and 67.3% were women; their
mean age was 19.9, SD = 7.4). Significantly more university students
reported self-perceived loneliness compared with high-school students
(31.1% vs. 23.8%, χ2(1)= 4.79, p = .032). Internet addiction scores
were also marginally higher for the university students (M = 41.2,
SD = 12.5) compared with the high-school students (M = 39.3,
SD = 13.6;t = 1.961,p = .050),butthepercentageofmild,moderate,
or severe users did not differ across the two samples. No other differ-
ences between the two samples were found.
Questionnaires wereadministered duringregularlyscheduled classes
study and their rights (i.e., anonymity, confidentially, and voluntary
participation). The response rate was 97.4% for the University students
and 98.6% for the high school students. There was no compensation for
The demographics included questions on sex, age, and feelings of
self-perceived loneliness (“Do you feel lonely?”), sadness (“Do you
frequently feel sad?”), andanxiety(“Doyoufeelthatyouaremorestressed
than your peers?”).
The Internet Addiction Test (IAT; Young, 1998) consists of 20 self-
reported items, rated on a 5-item Likert scale, to determine the degree
of problematic Internet use behaviors. Scores were classified into mild
(20–49), moderate (50–79), and severe (80–100) levels of IA (Young,
1998b). The Greek translation, which has good psychometric proper-
ties, was used (Siomos, Floros, Mouzas, & Angelopoulos, 2009). In the
current study, the Cronbach alpha was .91.
The Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI; Parker, Tupling, & Brown,
1979) is a 25 item self-report measure, rated on a 4-item Likert scale,
of one's recalled parenting experiences during the first 16 years of life.
Four types of bonding can be extracted: Optimal parenting (high care
and low protection), neglectful parenting (low care and low protection),
affectionate constraint (high care and high protection), and affectionless
affection versus indifference and rejection and control reflects parental
control and intrusion versus encouragement of autonomy and indepen-
dence. The Greek-validated PBI, whichhas good psychometric properties
(Avagianou & Zafiropoulou, 2008), was used. In the present study, the
Cronbach alphas for the maternal and paternal care were .84 and .85,
respectively and for the protection were .68 and .67, respectively.
The shortened Person's Relating to Others Questionnaire (PROQ3;
Birtchnell, Hammond, Horn, De Jong, & Kalaitzaki, 2013) is a 48-item
measure, rated on a 4-item Likert scale, of negative (i.e. maladaptive/
dysfunctional) relating to others (NRO). NRO reflects one's inability to
establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships with others.
Higher scores represent more relating deficits. The Greek translation
has been found to be psychometrically sound (Birtchnell, Hammond,
Horn, De Jong, & Kalaitzaki, 2013). In the current study the Cronbach
alpha was .84.
3.1. Factor structure of the IAT
An exploratory factor analysis, using the principal axis extraction
method followed by a varimax orthogonal rotation, yielded three factors,
accounting for 48.9% of the variance. The first factor (α = .85) was
labeled “withdrawal and social problems” (item nos. 3, 4, 10, 11,
12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20), the second one (α = .81) “time management
and performance” (item nos. 5, 6, 8, 9, 17, 18), and the third
(α = .61) “excessive use” (item nos. 1, 2, 7, 14). Confirmatory Factor
Analysis (CFA) was conducted to test the fit of the three-factor model
(Model I) compared with the unidimensional one (Model II). The fit in-
dices of both models are shown in Table 1. The incorporation of the
error covariances between items 6–8 and 3–19 substantially improved
both models' fit. The three-factor model (Ib) provided better fit, com-
pared to the unidimensional (IIb).
3.2. Prevalence rates of IA
Overall, 25.6% of the respondents were involved in normal use,
51.0% were involved in mild Internet use, 22.4% in moderate use, and
1.0% in severe (addictive) use. Males had significantly higher overall
IAT score (43.1) than females (39.4; t(760)= 3.611, p b .0001). Signifi-
cantly more men (1.8%) than women (0.6%) were severely addicted
(χ2(3)= 14.960, p = .002).
3.3. A mediation analysis of the impact of parenting bonding on IA
parenting were associated with higher and lower IA scores. For this
reason, they were selected as the independent variables. The hypothe-
sized effects of the independent variables on IA through the role of the
mediators (NRO, loneliness, sadness, and anxiety) were examined
through Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Two alternative models
were compared with the Robust Maximum Likelihood (RML) estimation
method. In Model Ia, parental and maternal optimal parenting and affec-
A.E. Kalaitzaki, J. Birtchnell / Addictive Behaviors 39 (2014) 733–736
Author's personal copy
effects of parental and maternal optimal parenting and affectionate
control were assumed to have only an indirect effect on IA through the
mediators (complete mediated model).
The paths from both anxiety and loneliness to IA were non-
significant, and were left out in the second step of the analysis. After
the incorporation of the error covariances between items 6–8 and
3–19, both models (Models Ib and IIb) adequately fitted the data, with
Model Ib being slightly better (χ2/d.f. = 2.471, SRMR = 0.042,
CFI = 0.913, RMSEA = 0.048) than the complete mediation model
(χ2/d.f. = 2.466, SRMR = 0.047, CFI = 0.912, RMSEA = 0.048). The
paths from father's affectionless control and optimal parenting to
NRO, and the path from NRO to IA, were significant, whereas the
paths from father's affectionless control and optimal parenting to IA
were not. The paths from mother's optimal parenting to sadness and
the path from sadness to IA were significant, whereas the path from
mother's optimal parenting to IA was non-significant. Fig. 1 shows the
path diagram with the estimated standardized beta coefficients of
The dimensionality of the Young's Internet Addiction Test (IAT) still
multidimensionality of the IAT, ranging from two factors (e.g., Watters,
Keefer, Kloosterman, Summerfeldt, & Parker, 2013) to as many as seven
(Caplan, 2002). Although Siomos, Floros, Mouzas, and Angelopoulos
(2009) found fourfactorsina Greek sample, theyalways used it as unidi-
mensional intheir studies (Floros & Siomos, 2013; Floros, Siomos, Fisoun,
Dafouli, & Geroukalis, 2013). The controversial number of factors may be
attributed to the sample selection and composition. Siomos et al. (2009)
sample was younger than that of the present study and it was recruited
from only two Greek towns. The study findings suggest that the IAT is a
valid instrument for assessing IA in adolescents and young adults in
Greece, though further research is needed.
It was a surprise to find a relatively low rate (1%) of severe or addic-
tive Internet use. It was, however, comparable to that (1.5%) of the
study by Kormas, Critselis, Janikian, Kafetzis, and Tsitsika (2011). This
may be attributed to the relatively low percentage of Internet use in
Greece, compared to that of the European Union (46% vs. 70%; Society
of Information Observatory, 2011). Nearly one fourth of the study par-
ticipants (22.4%) were involved in moderate use, which potentially
may develop IA. Consistent with the expectations, more males than
females were severely addicted. This may be due to the increased fre-
quency of online gaming or visit of sex pages by males compared with
females (Young, 1998).
A notable finding of this study was the impact of parental rearing
styles on IA through the mediating role of NRO and sadness. Contrary
to the findings by Siomos et al. (2012), affectionless control (by the
father) was found to have an indirect impact on IA through NRO.
Therefore, exposing a child to affectionless control in early life seems
to predispose in maladaptive relationships with others in later life,
which in turn, leads to IA. Consistent with the expectations (Floros &
on IA, through either NRO (for the father) or sadness (for the mother).
In all, father's affectionless control and optimal parenting on IA was
entirely mediated by the NRO, whereas mother's optimal parenting on
IA was entirely mediated by sadness.
There are several limitations to this study. It was cross-sectional and
causal inferences need to be longitudinally verified. Prevalence rates
could have been underestimated due to social desirability responding.
Parental bonding was based on retrospective data. Information from
other sources, such as parents, could have cross-validated self-reported
data. Lastly, had the sample been recruited from other high-schools,
besides the technical ones, the results may have been different.
Our study has sought to extend the understanding in the field of
young adults' IA and especially of the factors influencing IA. As our
findings suggest, it is imperative to recognize the antecedents of IA.
The implications for both prevention and intervention programs to re-
duce the incidence of IA are noteworthy. Should inappropriate parental
rearing styles impact IA, either directly or indirectly, professionals may
take preventive actions in helping parents to improve or give up
improper rearing styles. Caring and protective parents, yet respecting
children's autonomy could safeguard their children from the risk of
developing IA (Floros & Siomos, 2013). Having no influence to
of the IA.
CMIN/DF SRMSR TLICFIRMSEA
Model Ib (err6 ↔ err8)
Model Ic (err3 ↔ err19)
Model IIb (err6 ↔ err8)
Model IIc (err3 ↔ err19)
The χ2/degrees of freedom ratio (CMIN/DF) below 3 (Kline, 2005), the standardized root
mean square residual (SRMSR) between 0.06 and 0.08 or less, the Tucker–Lewis index
(TLI), and the comparative fit index (CFI) between 0.90 and 0.95, the coefficient of
determination (CD) above 0.90, and finally the root mean square error of approximation
(RMSEA) no greater than 0.06 suggest good model fit (Hu & Bentler, 1999).
to others (NRO)
Fig. 1. The path diagram with the estimated standardized beta coefficients of Model IIb. Significant coefficients are bold typed.
A.E. Kalaitzaki, J. Birtchnell / Addictive Behaviors 39 (2014) 733–736
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deviations of one's early attachment styles, efforts may focus on the
NRO. Ameliorating NRO and promoting positive relating styles could
buffer an individual from IA. Both family-based and individual-based
preventive approaches against IA may be necessary.
Role of funding sources
There was no involvement of any funding source in any part of this research.
A. E. Kalaitzaki designed the study, carried out the literature review, formulated the
research questions, carried out the statistical analyses, and wrote the paper (draft and
all revisions). J. Birtchnell assisted with the literature review and contributed in revising
the paper. All authors have read and approved the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
We would like to thank the students Eleni Patedaki, Kiriaki Pigi, & Artemis-Maria
Sikiotaki for their contribution in recruiting the sample.
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