A Social Skill Account of Problematic Internet Use


  • Scott E. Caplan

    1. Scott E. Caplan (PhD, Purdue University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware.
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  • The author thanks R. Lance Holbert for his comments and suggestions on this article.


This study integrates research on social skill and self-presentation into the recently introduced cognitive-behavioral theory of generalized problematic Internet use. The model proposed and tested here predicted that individuals who lack self-presentational skill are especially likely to prefer online social interaction over face-to-face communication. Further, the model predicted that a preference for online social interaction fosters compulsive Internet use, which results in negative outcomes. Participants in this study completed measures of social skill, preference for online social interaction, compulsive Internet use, and negative outcomes associated with Internet use. Structural equation modeling analysis techniques tested the proposed model. The analysis indicated a good fit between the hypothesized model and the current data.