The pervasiveness of the Internet has raised concern about its (problematic) use and the potentially negative impact on people's health. Neuroticism has been identified as one potential risk factor of Internet and other online addictions. To obtain a comprehensive quantitative synthesis of the association of neuroticism and both overall and problematic Internet activities, a meta-analysis was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. A comprehensive search was carried out in nine academic databases. After a stepwise screening procedure, 159 studies were eventually included: 104 studies in the meta-analysis on neuroticism and Internet activities and 64 studies in the meta-analysis on neuroticism and problematic Internet activities, comprising Internet, social media, Facebook, smartphone, and online gaming addiction (9 studies considered both aspects). When it comes to overall Internet activities, effect sizes were generally small and frequently non-significant, with some exceptions (e.g., expression of real me). For problematic Internet activities, a completely different picture emerged: high levels of neuroticism significantly correlated with all measures of problematic Internet activities, with medium size correlations. The differential results for Internet activities in general and problematic Internet activities can be related to problems in the conceptualization and assessment of the latter. More research is needed to overcome current conceptual and methodological issues and investigate the real nature of problematic Internet activities and to be eventually able to evaluate if neurotic people are really an at-risk population.
- Internet activities
- Internet addiction
- Problematic internet activities
- Social media addiction