Table_1_Development of an Online and Offline Integration Hypothesis for Healthy Internet Use: Theory and Preliminary Evidence.DOCX

The Internet has become an integral part of our daily life, and how to make the best use of the Internet is important to both individuals and the society. Based on previous studies, an Online and Offline Integration Hypothesis is proposed to suggest a framework for considering harmonious and balanced Internet use. The Integration Hypothesis proposes that healthier patterns of Internet usage may be achieved through harmonious integration of people’s online and offline worlds. An online/offline integration is proposed to unite self-identity, interpersonal relationships, and social functioning with both cognitive and behavioral aspects by following the principles of communication, transfer, consistency, and “offline-first” priorities. To begin to test the hypothesis regarding the relationship between integration level and psychological outcomes, data for the present study were collected from 626 undergraduate students (41.5% males). Participants completed scales for online and offline integration, Internet addiction, pros and cons of Internet use, loneliness, extraversion, and life satisfaction. The findings revealed that subjects with higher level of online/offline integration have higher life satisfaction, greater extraversion, and more positive perceptions of the Internet and less loneliness, lower Internet addiction, and fewer negative perceptions of the Internet. Integration mediates the link between extraversion and psychological outcomes, and it may be the mechanism underlying the difference between the “rich get richer” and social compensation hypotheses. The implications of the online and offline integration hypothesis are discussed.