The Effect of Instant Messaging Services on Society’s Mental Health

Mark S. Rosenbaum, Northern Illinois University*
Ipkin Anthony Wong, Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau

This article shows how instant-messaging (IM) service providers are helping and hindering societal mental health among young adults. IM services provide users with an ability to obtain instantaneous and inexpensive support in their time of need. However, excessive Internet usage may place IM users at risk for experiencing symptoms associated with Internet addiction and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

A framework obtained from coding qualitative data is proposed. The framework is tested with structural equation methodology and latent mean analysis from data collected from younger-aged Chinese and American IM users.

The findings show that IM users in both China and America are obtaining social support from their virtual networks. However, both groups of IM users are showing signs of elevated levels of Internet addiction and of being at-risk for ADHD. This research highlights that excessive IM/ Internet usage may be hindering mental health among young adults and the problem is likely to grow in the future.

 

* Corresponding Author