Internet use and developmental tasks: Adolescents' point of view

Gabriella Borca, Manuela Bina, Peggy S. Keller, Lauren R. Gilbert, Tatiana Begotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Abstract This study explored adolescents' opinions about how Internet use supports the achievement of their developmental tasks. Qualitative data were collected in focus groups interviews with 127 Italian Internet users (11-20) attending middle and high schools. Discussions were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using content analysis. Results showed that the Internet plays important functions in identity formation, personal autonomy, and relationships outside the family. It allows teens to develop their own interests, to identify with others and, at the same time, differentiate from others. The Internet is also an arena in which adolescents develop and practice autonomy. The Internet can be a source of conflict with parents, because of parents' concerns about Internet use. However, the Internet can also be a meeting ground with parents. Finally, participants indicated the Internet is used to form close relationships with peers. Gender and age differences are discussed. Although the study is cross-sectional and relies only on adolescent report, findings illustrate how the conceptual framework of developmental goals may be helpful for understanding how the Internet can affect adolescents' lives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3479
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Jun 11 2015


  • Adolescence
  • Autonomy
  • Close relationships
  • Identity formation
  • Internet usage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology (all)


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