Study Shows Depressing Link Between Parenting Style And Internet Addiction

106286192A new Greek study shows that kids with recollections of strict, unaffectionate parents are more likely to develop an Internet addiction. It makes sense. When we were sad as kids we used to just disappear into books or take walks. Now, there’s a whole world online to distract kids who may feel lonely or depressed.

The study focused on more than 700 young adults, all around age 20. The subjects responded to questions regarding loneliness, sadness, anxiety and Internet use. Those who recalled having strict, unaffectionate parents showed an unhealthy attachment to the Internet. These kids tend tend “to be sad or to have trouble making friends, and those personality traits raise their risk of Internet addiction,” the researchers say.

Well, this makes sense. I’m pretty sure I have an Internet addiction – as I work on it full-time and find myself drawn to it even when I’m not working. It takes a conscious effort for me to unplug. I seem to grab an electronic device and start surfing out of habit more than anything else. On the weekends, I have to leave my computer on a shelf and turn my ringer off so I’m not distracted by my devices.

I know this is a product of having made Internet use habitual. That’s why this study makes sense to me. If kids don’t have nurturing parents there to remind them there is a world outside of their Internet screens and also interact with them in a healthy way – I can understand why someone would develop the habit of turning to the Internet.

I’m so glad there was no Internet when I was younger and I’m already seeing how hard it is to set healthy boundaries for kids. My teenage stepdaughter loves Instagram and browsing around the iTunes store endlessly. When I was a teenager, you couldn’t get me to sit still in my house once my homework was done. I really hope I can pass that kind of lifestyle on to my kids. I don’t want them staring into screens. There will be enough of that when they get older, especially if they take a job that requires it.

“Parents should be made aware of the harmful impact that a potential negative parental rearing style may have upon their children in later life,” one of the researchers told Reuter’s Health. That’s true for a lot of things, but certainly something to think about in regards to how much our kids will turn to the Internet.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Kheldarson

      This makes sense to me, and it’s something I’ll definitely be paying attention to as my son grows up. Not because I’m planning on being unaffectionate, mind you. But because I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I are Internet and gamer junkies.

      But I want our kid to at least know the outdoors for himself and not just because Skyrim makes an amazing facsimile.

    • Itpainsmetosay

      I don’t think the fact my family wasn’t filled with huggers is the reason I like the internet. I blame it more on my ADD than anything.

    • AP

      I became addicted to the internet when I realized it was like a giant library and newsstand that came into my house and had something new to read every few hours.

      Kind of like the library my mom took me to as a kid, but faster!

      • KarenMS

        So much to read! I don’t understand how more people aren’t addicted!

      • brebay

        Good point, and by the way, how come no one ever calls reading books an addiction? I know some people who are complete book addicts, to the point it interferes with other aspects of their lives. But I think we all just feel it’s sort of sacrilege to denigrate reading in any way, even though that’s what most of us are doing on that evil internet!

      • Williwaw

        I totally agree that reading can be an addiction…but I wouldn’t say the Internet is the equal of reading published books. With the exception of people who self-publish, most published books have been through some sort of winnowing process, and editing, so there is at least some quality control (though I concede that some pretty crappy stuff still gets published). On the Internet, however, anyone can post anything without any forethought, oversight, or review. This means that when you are reading on the Internet, it’s much more likely that you’re reading complete garbage that really is a waste of time (e.g. blog posts about what people had for breakfast, stupid quizzes that tell you what mythological creature you are, angry rants about every subject imaginable, “news” stories that have little or no truth in them, biased websites that give only one side of whatever belief they’re promoting, bullying/argumentative/repetitious thread conversations, advertisements, memes, bad medical advice, stories about parakeets who can sing the national anthem, and [of course] horrible, horrible fan fiction). I’m not saying that everyone who spends a lot of time on the Internet is reading crap…but it is sometimes hard to avoid, and if you don’t have a strong filtering attitude, you probably will waste time. I love to read books – real books – but I also read less of them since the Internet came along.

    • Unforgettable

      On the bright side, being neglectful cold parents might increase the odds of your child coming up with the next Twitter

    • brebay

      Hmmm…they couldn’t figure this out from the fact that crappy parenting plays a role in every other addiction? Seriously, though, I think what you’re doing on the internet probably makes a huge difference as to whether it’s harmful or an addiction or not.