Publication details

Adolescents’ Online Communication and Self-Disclosure to Online and Offline Acquaintances : Differential Effects of Social Anxiety and Depressed Moods


MÝLEK Vojtěch DĚDKOVÁ Lenka SCHOUTEN Alexander P.

Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Media Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords online communication; online self-disclosure; social anxiety; depressed moods; preference for online social interaction; communication partners
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Description Adolescents commonly use the Internet to communicate with their acquaintances. This study examines how social anxiety and depressed moods influence adolescents’ online communication – both its frequency and the level of self-disclosure. We propose that these relationships are mediated by adolescents’ preference for online social interaction (POSI), which helps explain the mixed results of previous research. Moreover, since the communication patterns may differ based on communication partners, we differentiate between online and offline acquaintances. Using structural equation modeling, we tested our hypotheses on survey data from 1,530 Czech adolescents (ages 13–18, 50.1% female). Our results suggest that while social anxiety is directly related to less online communication, indirectly, through higher POSI, it is related to more online communication. Notably, these associations are canceled out in communication with online acquaintances, but the inhibitions predominate in communication with offline acquaintances. Experiencing depressed moods is associated with more extensive online communication, both directly and via POSI, indicating that adolescents use online communication to cope with negative feelings. Theoretically, our findings support both the rich-get-richer and social-compensation hypotheses and suggest they are complementary. Moreover, they emphasize the role of adolescents’ perceptions of online communication within the social-compensation mechanism.
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