Aggressive and stressed? Youth’s aggressive behaviors in light of their internet use, sensation seeking, stress and social feelings [2017]

• Being a male, neglect, disinhibition, loneliness contributed to physical aggression.

• Age, shyness (inversely), neglect, stress, boredom were related to verbal aggression.

• Obsessive internet use, disinhibition, stress, loneliness were associated with anger.

Aggressive behavior and its consequences are a serious mental health problem for youth all over the world. In this study we investigated how problematic internet use, sensation seeking and social/dispositional factors are related to three forms of aggression: physical, verbal, and anger in a sample of Hungarian youth. In total 408 (50% females) aged between 14 and 24 years (M = 20.8 years, SD = 2.6) completed an online survey (between January and June 2014; different online social networking sites and online forums, such as university groups on Facebook and Hungarian writing sites) assessing these constructs. Multiple linear regression analyses (stepwise method) revealed a mixed pattern of predictors of each type of aggression, with boredom, age (as negative predictor), stress, lack of shyness and internet-associated neglect accounting for significant variance in verbal aggression. Obsessive internet use, disinhibition, stress and loneliness each accounted for significant variance in anger. Finally, after controlling for gender, internet-associated neglect, disinhibition and loneliness were associated with physical aggression. These findings suggest that interventions targetting aggression need to focus on different behaviors and attributes, depending on the type of aggression exhibited. Learning effective aggression management techniques should be a part of complex health education programs that would help with prevention of social conflicts, substance use, problem behavior, psychological and mental health problems as well as problematic internet use.

Bettina F. Piko, Dora K. Prievara, David Mellor

Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 77, June 2017