Adverse childhood experience and young adult's problematic Internet use: The role of hostility and loneliness

Wen Hsu Lin*, Chi Chiao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Few studies have explored the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and problematic Internet use (PIU) during young adulthood. Moreover, even fewer studies have explored the roles of loneliness (social and emotional) and hostility in this relationship. Methods: This study used data from the Taiwan Youth Project (2011–2017). The analytical sample included 1885 participants (mean age = 31.3 years). PIU was measured using the short form of Chen's Internet Addiction Scale (2017). ACEs were assessed at the baseline of the adolescent phase (mean age = 14.3 years); this indicator has undergone recent revision. Hostility (three items from the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised) and loneliness (six items from the De Jong Gierveld scale) were measured in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Results: ACEs were associated with hostility and loneliness (emotional and social). Additionally, hostility (β = 0.62, p < .01) and emotional loneliness (β = 0.44, p < .01) were significantly associated with PIU. Most mediating paths (e.g., ACE → hostility → PIU) were significant, based on the bootstrapping results. Conclusions: This study suggests that ACEs have a long-term shadow effect on PIU in young adults. ACEs show an indirect association with PIU through both hostility and loneliness, as well as involving the relationship between them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106624
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Emotional loneliness
  • Hostility
  • Problematic Internet use
  • Social loneliness


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