Adolescents' use of Instant Messaging as a means of emotional relief

Michal Dolev-Cohen, Azy Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Instant Messaging (IM) plays a major role in online communication, whether through dedicated software or through chat integrated in a social network's platform. IM-based online conversation enables private, synchronous, interpersonal communication while being invisible and possibly anonymous; facilitates self-disclosure and intimacy; and possesses advantageous features of expressive writing and social support. For adolescents, the use of IM is a legitimate, available, and free alternative vehicle for communicating with peers to ventilate negative emotions and to receive social support and advice. The present study examined effects of IMing friends on the emotional state of distressed adolescents through both pre-post (n = 100) analyses and comparison with an un-distressed group (n = 50). Dependent measures included self-report questionnaires, textual analysis, and expert judges' evaluations of the conversations. Findings revealed that IM conversation significantly contributed to the well-being of distressed adolescents. In addition, participants' level of introversion-extroversion moderated the degree of their perceived emotional relief, so that introverted participants profited from IMing more than did extraverts. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of online communication theory, as well as the practical implementations for troubled adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Adolescence
  • Instant Messaging
  • Internet and personality
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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