PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORTS, vol.0, no.0, 2023 (SSCI)
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed individuals to intense restrictions and social isolation, as well as the possibility of deterioration of physical health. In the pandemic period, the Internet has become the principal avenue for social interaction, leisure related activities, and school-work pursuits for most people and consequently problematic Internet use (PIU) has increased dramatically in this period. Modeling of PIU among university students - considered one of the most negatively affected groups at this time - along with PIU subconstructs as well as indicators of psychological well-being - life satisfaction, loneliness, and hostility - will be valuable in directing future studies. This study examined the effects of the psychological well-being indicators of life satisfaction, loneliness, and hostility on PIU constructs; the preference for online social interaction, Internet use for mood regulation, and deficient self-regulation of Internet use during the Covid-19 pandemic social isolation period. Participants were 418 undergraduate students from a public university (130 male and 288 female). Results revealed that young adults with low life satisfaction have been more likely to problematically use the Internet to regulate their mood during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hostility and loneliness between which there is a moderately strong direct relationship, were similarly related to deficiently self-regulated Internet use. Moreover, individuals experiencing feelings of loneliness are more likely to use the Internet problematically for online social interaction purposes, while those experiencing feelings of hostility are more likely to use it problematically for mood regulation purposes. Given the significant relationships between indicators of psychological well-being and PIU, higher education institutions should take measures to prevent PIU behaviors in their students in case they face potential periods of social isolation.