Behaviour Change


It's a Boy Thing: The Role of the Internet in Young People's Psychological Wellbeing

Lauren Donchia1 and Susan Moorea2 c1

a1 Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.

a2 Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.


The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between psychological wellbeing and Internet use among adolescents, focussing not only on time spent on the Internet, but also on the relative strength/importance of both face-to-face and Internet friendship networks. A sample of 336 young people aged between 15 and 21 years from a secondary school and a university population were surveyed. Results indicated that females with more online friends were higher on selfesteem and lower on loneliness than females with fewer online friends, but the opposite was true for males. A higher number of online regular friendships seemed to militate against self-esteem and was related to greater loneliness for males. For face-to-face friendships, the effects on wellbeing were in the same direction for males and females, but stronger for males. Those with more face-to-face friendships were higher on self-esteem and less lonely. In addition, young men who rated their online friendship networks as very important were more likely to have lower self-esteem and to be lonely. Actual time spent on the Internet was not a predictor of wellbeing for either sex when online and offline friendship factors were included in the regression equation.


c1 Address for correspondence: Professor Susan Moore, School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (Mail 24), Swinburne University of Technology, PO Box 218, Hawthorn, Vic. 3122, Australia. E-mail: