Psychopathological symptoms and loneliness in adult internet users: a contemporary public health concern

Ângela Leite, Ana Ramires, Susana Amorim, Hélder Fernando Pedrosa e Sousa, Diogo Guedes Vidal*, Maria Alzira Pimenta Dinis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


There are different concepts that translate abusive Internet use. Almost all these concepts converge on excessive time spent online, which can trigger the emergence of problematic situations. Most of the studies reported in the literature, both nationally and internationally, focused on a young population and found negative consequences of this Internet misuse. The objective of this study consists of associating the time spent using the Internet—in years, times per week, and hours per day—with psychopathological symptoms, as well as assessing the perception of loneliness, in an adult Portuguese population. A quantitative approach, based on a survey application, was conducted in a convenience sample composed by 418 participants (64.4% female), with a mean age of 29.9 years old (SD = 9.26), ranging from 18 to 73 years. The results suggest that maladaptive patterns of Internet use found in young people seem to be replicated in the adult population. A relationship between time spent on the Internet and psychopathological symptoms, and an association between loneliness and the number of hours spent on the Internet, were also identified. In an individualized and disconnected offline world, Internet impact in individuals’ well-being results must be highlighted, since it should be understood as a public health issue. The novelty of this study lies in the target population: Portuguese Internet users over 18 years of age, for which there is no specific study on the subject, thus emphasizing the transverse nature of the problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number856
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Loneliness
  • Problematic internet use
  • Psychopathological symptoms
  • Time spend on internet
  • Well-being


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