Risks and resources of internet: the role of virtual sense of community


  • D. Caso
  • V. Carfora


Background: The Internet use could be simultaneously a resource and a risk. In fact, it provides opportunities to find a virtual social support and perceive a sense of virtual community, but the risk of developing an Internet addiction is well-know. In the current study, we examined if: the positive effect of sense of virtual community on psychological wellbeing of a woman registered in an online group for weight loss was negative mediated by addictive Internet use; the relationship between sense of virtual community and internet addiction was moderated by virtual social support. Methods: Participants were 195 Italian women (mean age = 43.60; SD = 10.31), which were members of a private group on Facebook aimed to support weight loss. They completed an online questionnaire for measuring psycho-social wellbeing, sense of virtual community, addictive Internet use and virtual social support. Data analysis were conducted using Conditional Process Model for testing moderated mediation. Findings: Findings showed that sense of virtual community explained both members’ psychological wellbeing and addictive Internet use. Particularly, the positive effect of sense of community on psychological wellbeing was negative mediated by addictive Internet use. Finally, higher scores of virtual support increased the levels of addictive Internet use. Discussion: This results suggested that taking into account Internet addiction is critical for considering the impact of sense of virtual community on psychological wellbeing. Future researches could investigate how help women to lose weight using online group without developing an addictive use of Internet.





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