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Empathy, Social Self-Efficacy, Problematic Internet Use, and Problematic Online Gaming Between Early and Late Adolescence
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking  (IF4.157),  Pub Date : 2021-12-07, DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2021.0042
Valeria Verrastro, Clarissa A. Albanese, Giuseppe Ritella, Maria C. Gugliandolo, Francesca Cuzzocrea

This study aims to investigate the relationship between empathy, social self-efficacy, problematic Internet use (PIU), and problematic online gaming (POG) and to evaluate how such relationship varies according to the age of the participants. A sample of 1,585 Italian students, both genders, aged 12–20 years, were divided into three groups according to the age filled in these self-report questionnaires: PIU; Game Addiction Scale for Adolescents; Interpersonal Reactivity Index; Scale of Social Self-Efficacy; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The results allow to confirm that in the Italian context the relationships between the examined constructs change across the three age groups considered in the study. PIU and POG, as well as prosocial behaviors and personal distress, tend to significantly decrease in late adolescence (age 18–20 years); 15–17 years adolescents reported more empathic concern compared with the other groups. PIU and POG are affected by empathy and social-self efficacy in different ways depending on age, suggesting that the two conditions have an at least partially different nature. The different components of empathy seem to play a different role in the development of either PIU or POG confirming the need to separate the components of empathy.