Influence of Different Facets of Internet Addiction on Subjective Well-being in Malaysia: A Comparison Across Ethnic Groups

Siti Zobidah Omar, Zeinab Zaremohzzabieh, Asnarulkhadi Abu Samah, Jusang Bolong, Hayrol Azril Mohamed Shaffril


Despite a growing awareness that internet addiction is becoming a significant public health issue, there is limited research on how multiple facets of internet addiction relates to the humanistic concepts of well-being, particularly those captured in Diener's three subjective well-being dimensions: life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect across ethnic groups. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between different facets of internet addiction and the three subjective well-being dimensions in Malaysia. The research work also sought to investigate if the relationship operates equivalently across ethnic groups. Malaysians (n = 400, 66.5% female; age in years M = 24.52, SD = 5.7) completed Satisfaction with Life Scale and the PANAS. Structural equation modelling was used to examine these associations. Results showed that six facets of internet addiction, such as mood modification, impaired control, conflict, preoccupation, tolerance, and withdrawal, were significant predictors of lower subjective well-being on almost all scales across the total sample size. Invariances analyses also indicated that there were a few significant ethnic differences across these predictors for subjective well-being. The findings highlight the importance of efforts to reduce various characteristic symptoms of internet addiction to mitigate its harmful effects on subjective well-being across ethnic groups in Malaysia.


Keywords: Internet addiction, subjective well-being, ethnic groups, Malaysia, multidimensional.

Full Text:



Akın, A. (2012). The relationships between Internet addiction, subjective vitality, and subjective happiness. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(8), 404–410.

Alavi, S. S., Maracy, M. R., Jannatifard, F., & Eslami, M. (2011). The effect of psychiatric symptoms on the internet addiction disorder in Isfahan’s University students. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 16(6), 793–800.

Ang, R. P., Chong, W. H., Chye, S., & Huan, V. S. (2012). Loneliness and generalized problematic Internet use: Parents’ perceived knowledge of adolescents’ online activities as a moderator. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(4), 1342–1347.

Baron, R. S. (1986). Distraction-conflict theory: Progress and problems. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 1–40.

Brand, M., Young, K. S., Laier, C., Wölfling, K., & Potenza, M. N. (2016). Integrating psychological and neurobiological considerations regarding the development and maintenance of specific Internet-use disorders: An Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 252–266.

Byrne, B. M. (2016). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Caplan, S. E. (2010). Theory and measurement of generalized problematic Internet use: A two-step approach. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 1089–1097.

Ceranoglu, T. A. (2010). Video games in psychotherapy. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 141–146.

Charlton, J. P., & Danforth, I. D. (2007). Distinguishing addiction and high engagement in the context of online game playing. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1531–1548.

Chen, W., Li, D., Bao, Z., Yan, Y., & Zhou, Z. (2015). The impact of parent-child attachment on adolescent problematic Internet use: A moderated mediation model. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 47(5), 611–623.

Chun, J. (2016). Effects of psychological problems, emotional dysregulation, and self-esteem on problematic internet use among Korean adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 68, 187–192.

Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM). (2018). Current population estimates, Malaysia, 2017-2018. Retrieved from

DiNicola, M. D. (2004). Pathological Internet use among college students: The prevalence of pathological Internet use and its correlates (PhD Thesis, Ohio University, Ohio).

Dong, G., & Potenza, M. N. (2014). A cognitive-behavioral model of Internet gaming disorder: Theoretical underpinnings and clinical implications. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 58, 7–11.

Elhai, J. D., Levine, J. C., Dvorak, R. D., & Hall, B. J. (2016). Fear of missing out, need for touch, anxiety and depression are related to problematic smartphone use. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 509–516.

Ellis, A. (2004). Rational emotive behavior therapy: It works for me—It can work for you. New York: Prometheus Books.

Fardouly, J., Willburger, B. K., & Vartanian, L. R. (2018). Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways. New Media & Society, 20(4), 1380–1395.

Ferraro, G., Caci, B., D’amico, A., & Blasi, M. D. (2006). Internet addiction disorder: An Italian study. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(2), 170–175.

Gmel, G., Khazaal, Y., Studer, J., Baggio, S., & Marmet, S. (2019). Development of a short form of the compulsive internet use scale in Switzerland. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 28(1), 3–11.

Hanprathet, N., Manwong, M., Khumsri, J., Yingyeun, R., & Phanasathit, M. (2015). Facebook addiction and its relationship with mental health among Thai high school students. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 98, 81–90.

Hazita Azman, Ali Salman, Norizan Abdul Razak, Supyan Hussin, Mohd Safar Hasim, & Musa Abu Hassan. (2014). Determining digital maturity among ICT users in Malaysia. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 30(1), 22–34.

Hormes, J. M., Kearns, B., & Timko, C. A. (2014). Craving Facebook? Behavioral addiction to online social networking and its association with emotion regulation deficits. Addiction, 109(12), 2079–2088.

Koç, P. (2017). Internet addiction and subjective well-being in university students. Journal of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, 1(1), 34–41.

Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., Shablack, H., Jonides, J., & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PloS One, 8(8), 1–6.

Kuss, D. J., Griffiths, M. D., Karila, L., & Billieux, J. (2014). Internet addiction: A systematic review of epidemiological research for the last decade. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20(25), 4026–4052.

Lachmann, B., Sindermann, C., Sariyska, R. Y., Luo, R., Melchers, M. C., Becker, B., Cooper, A. J., & Montag, C. (2018). The role of empathy and life satisfaction in internet and smartphone use disorder. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–11.

Leelakulthanit, O. (2013). Life satisfaction of the Internet and non-Internet users in Thailand. The International Business & Economics Research Journal (Online), 12(4), 415–426.

Leelanuithanit, O., Day, R., & Walters, R. (1991). Investigating the relationship between marketing and overall satisfaction with life in a developing country. Journal of Macromarketing, 11(1), 3–23.

Lindridge, A., Henderson, G. R., & Ekpo, A. E. (2015). (Virtual) ethnicity, the Internet, and well-being. Marketing Theory, 15(2), 279–285.

Lu, X., & Yeo, K. J. (2015). Psychometric properties of the Internet addiction test in a sample of Malaysian undergraduate students. Psicología Educativa, 21(1), 17–25.

Luczak, S. E., Khoddam, R., Yu, S., Wall, T. L., Schwartz, A., & Sussman, S. (2017). Prevalence and co-occurrence of addictions in US ethnic/racial groups: Implications for genetic research. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 424–436.

Mak, K.-K., Lai, C.-M., Watanabe, H., Kim, D.-I., Bahar, N., Ramos, M., Young, K. S., Ho, R. C., Aum, N.-R., & Cheng, C. (2014). Epidemiology of internet behaviors and addiction among adolescents in six Asian countries. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(11), 720–728.

Mahyuddin Daud, & Juriah Abd Jalil. (2017). Protecting children against exposure to content risks online in Malaysia: Lessons from Australia. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 33(1), 115–126.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). (2017). Internet user survey 2017. Retrieved from pdf/MCMC-Internet-Users-Survey-2017.pdf

Meerkerk, G.-J., van den Eijnden, R. J., Franken, I. H. A., & Garretsen, H. F. L. (2010). Is compulsive internet use related to sensitivity to reward and punishment, and impulsivity? Computers in Human Behavior, 26(4), 729–735.

Milani, L., Osualdella, D., & Di Blasio, P. (2009). Quality of interpersonal relationships and problematic Internet use in adolescence. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(6), 681–684.

Mooij, M. D. (2018). Global marketing and advertising: Understanding cultural paradoxes (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Muusses, L. D., Finkenauer, C., Kerkhof, P., & Billedo, C. J. (2014). A longitudinal study of the association between compulsive internet use and wellbeing. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 21–28.

Norsiah Abdul Hamid, Mohd Sobhi Ishak, & Norhafezah Yusof. (2016). Assessing validity and reliability of social media as an empowerment tool for a group at risk in Malaysia. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 32(1), 193–207.

Odacı, H., & Çelik, Ç. B. (2017). Internet dependence in an undergraduate population: The roles of coping with stress, self-efficacy beliefs, and sex role orientation. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 55(3), 395–409.

Rohaya Mohd Nor, Teddy Edwin Chapun, & Constance Rinen Justin Wah. (2013). Malaysian rural community as consumer of health information and their use of ICT. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 29(1), 1–27.

Rounsaville, B. J., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. (1986). Proposed changes in DSM-III substance use disorders: Description and rationale. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 463–468.

Senol-Durak, E., & Durak, M. (2011). The mediator roles of life satisfaction and self-esteem between the affective components of psychological well-being and the cognitive symptoms of problematic Internet use. Social Indicators Research, 103(1), 23–32.

Sirkeci, I. (2009). Ethnic Marketing Potential in England and Wales. Asian Journal of Marketing, 2(1), 1–9.

Soh, P. C., Chew, K. W., Veeri, C. A., & Ang, P. H. (2011). Ethnic-based digital divide and internet use amongst Malaysian students. Akademika, 81(1), 93–100.

Starcevic, V., & Aboujaoude, E. (2017). Internet addiction: Reappraisal of an increasingly inadequate concept. CNS Spectrums, 22(1), 7–13.

Syarizan Dalib, Minah Harun, Norhafezah Yusof, & Mohd Khairie Ahmad. (2019). Exploring intercultural competence among students in Malaysian campuses. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 35(1), 1–16.

Telef, B. B. (2015). The positive and negative experience scale adaptation for Turkish university students. European Scientific Journal, 11(14), 49–54.

The Hong Kong Family Welfare Society. (2018). Healthy use of the Internet “A better Internet starts with you” campaign. HKFWS.

Tromholt, M. (2016). The Facebook experiment: Quitting Facebook leads to higher levels of well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(11), 661–666.

Turnbull, N., Peltzer, K., Pengpid, S., Low, W. Y., Huu, T. N., Rochmawati, E., & Win, H. H. (2018). Pathological Internet use and psychosocial risk factors among ASEAN university students. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 12(1), 1–8.

Vas, L., & Gombor, A. (2009). Exploring Internet motives and life satisfaction among Hungarian and Israeli medical students, living in Hungary. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(6), 685–701.

Verduyn, P., Lee, D. S., Park, J., Shablack, H., Orvell, A., Bayer, J., Ybarra, O., Jonides, J., & Kross, E. (2015). Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(2), 480–488.

Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.

Widyanto, L., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Internet addiction: Does it really exist?(revisited). In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Psychology and the internet (2nd ed., pp. 141–163). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Wong, X. Y., Gan, S. Y., & Chong, H. J. (2016). The relationship between loneliness, life satisfaction and internet addiction among young adults (Bachelor Thesis, UTAR, Malaysia).

Yoo, Y.-S., Cho, O.-H., & Cha, K.-S. (2014). Associations between overuse of the internet and mental health in adolescents. Nursing & Health Sciences, 16(2), 193–200.

Young, K. S. (2004). Internet addiction: A new clinical phenomenon and its consequences. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(4), 402–415.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

e-ISSN: 2289-1528