This paper aims to show how instant messaging (IM) service providers are helping and hindering societal mental health among young adults. That is, IM services provide users with an ability to obtain instantaneous and inexpensive support in their time of need. However, excessive internet usage may place IM users at risk of experiencing symptoms associated with internet addiction and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The authors propose a framework obtained from coding qualitative data. They test the framework with structural equation methodology and latent mean analysis from data collected from younger‐aged Chinese and American IM users in two studies.
Younger‐aged IM users in both China and the US obtain social support from their virtual networks. However, both groups of IM users show signs of elevated levels of internet addiction and of being at risk of experiencing symptoms associated with ADHD.
Excessive IM and internet usage may hinder young adults' mental health, and the problem is likely to grow in the future. The work confirms recent trends in US psychology to consider internet addiction a mental health disorder.
Both service and public health researchers are encouraged to consider the impact of technological services, including internet usage and IM, on consumer health and well‐being. People with ADHD are particularly susceptible to internet addiction; thus, technological services may be damaging society's mental health.
The paper illustrates how researchers can engage in transformative service research, referring to research with implications that affect global consumer health and well‐being. The work also shows a “dark side” to services and the unintended consequences of service technology on public health. Both topics have not been explored in service research.
Rosenbaum, M. and Wong, I. (2012), "The effect of instant messaging services on society's mental health", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 124-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/08876041211215284Download as .RIS
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