Perceived Parent–adolescent Communication and Pathological Internet Use Among Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model

  • Qinxue Liu
  • Yue Lin
  • Zongkui Zhou
  • Wei ZhangEmail author
Original Paper



Previous studies have proved the relationship between parent–adolescent communication and pathological Internet use. Based on the integration of compensatory satisfaction theory and the self-determination theory, the present study investigated (a) the mediating role of psychological needs satisfaction in the relationship between perceived parent–adolescent communication and pathological Internet use, and (b) the moderating role of parental responsiveness in the mediation model.


Data were collected from 2751 Chinese adolescents (mean age = 14.88 years, SD= 1.90). Participants completed anonymous questionnaires regarding parent–adolescent communication, psychological need satisfaction, perceived parental responsiveness, and pathological Internet use.


The results showed that perceived parent–adolescent communication was negatively associated with pathological Internet use after controlling for demographic variables. Mediation analyses revealed that psychological need satisfaction partially mediated the association between perceived parent–adolescent communication and pathological Internet use. Moderated mediation analyses further indicated that parent–adolescent communication had a protective effect on adolescent pathological Internet use and a facilitating effect on psychological need satisfaction only for adolescents with high parental responsiveness.


These results enhanced the understanding of the mediating and moderating mechanisms underlying the relationship between parent–adolescent communication and pathological Internet use. These findings also expand the compensatory satisfaction theory by illuminating one of the ways of how psychological needs were unsatisfied in one’s family.


Parent–Adolescent Communication Pathological Internet Use Psychological Need Need Satisfaction Parental Responsiveness 



This study was supported by the Education Sciences Planning project of Hubei province(2017GB004).

Author Contributions

Q.X.L. designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. Y.L. collaborated with the design and revised the manuscript. Z.K.Z. collaborated with the design. W.Z. assisted with the data analyses and revised the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional (Central China Normal University) and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants, their parents and teachers included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU)Ministry of EducationWuhanChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province and School of PsychologyCentral China Normal UniversityWuhanChina

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