Using a panel design, this study examined the prospective relationships between Internet addiction and life satisfaction as well as hopelessness in a representative sample of Hong Kong adolescents. Starting from 2009/10 academic year, 3328 Secondary 1 students in 28 secondary schools in Hong Kong participated in this longitudinal study (Mean age = 12.59 years; SD = 0.74 years). All participants responded to a questionnaire that includes the Internet Addiction Test, Life Satisfaction Scale, and Hopelessness Scale on a yearly basis. Cross-lagged analyses based on three waves of data collected during three junior adolescent years showed that Internet addiction measured at Time 1 predicted poor life satisfaction and hopelessness at Time 2, but not vice versa. Similarly, Internet addiction at Time 2 predicted low life satisfaction at Time 3, and the cross-lagged effects of life satisfaction and hopelessness on Internet addiction from Time 2 to Time 3 remained non-significant. The findings support the thesis that poor personal well-being in adolescents is the consequence rather than the cause of Internet addictive behaviors. To improve quality of life and prevent suicidality in adolescents, strategies that help reduce addictive behaviors related to the Internet should be considered.

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Published in Child Indicators Research, v. 11, issue 5.

© The Author(s) 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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The longitudinal study in the Project P.A.T.H.S. and preparation for this paper are financially supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

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