Peer victimization and problematic internet use in adolescents: The mediating role of deviant peer affiliation and the moderating role of family functioning
Abstract The role of social-environmental factors in adolescent problematic Internet use (PIU) has attracted considerable attention recently. Several studies have documented that peer victimization is positively associated with PIU. However, little is known about “how” (i.e., mediation mechanisms) and “under what conditions” (i.e., moderation mechanisms) peer victimization is associated with adolescent PIU. To contribute to this gap in the knowledge, this study used a large sample of Chinese adolescents ( N = 2758; M age = 13.53 years, SD = 1.06) to examine deviant peer affiliation (DPA) as a mediator and family functioning as a moderator in this relationship. Students completed anonymous questionnaires to measure the main variables. After controlling for important covariates related to PIU, the results indicated that (a) peer victimization was positively associated with PIU, (b) DPA partially mediated the link between peer victimization and PIU, and (c) family functioning moderated the association between peer victimization and DPA. Specifically, for adolescents with better family functioning, the relationship between peer victimization and DPA was weaker. The current research deepens our understanding of “how” and “under what conditions” peer victimization is related to PIU in adolescents.