IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 9775: The Impact of Peer Attachment on Left-Behind Children`s Pathological Internet Use: A Moderated Mediating Effect Model (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
The aim of this study was to determine how left-behind children`s perceived personal rejection and emotional intelligence impact on the relationship between their peer attachment and pathological Internet use in China. Using the cluster random sampling method, a total of 406 left-behind children (aging 12.76 ± 2.13) from six rural primary and secondary schools in mainland China were recruited for the study (202 males and 204 females). The results of the analysis indicated that peer attachment negatively predicted left-behind children`s pathological Internet use. Perceived personal rejection had a mediating effect on the relationship between peer attachment and pathological Internet use, whereas emotional intelligence had a moderating effect on the relationships between peer attachment and perceived personal rejection and between peer attachment and pathological Internet use among these children. Moreover, peer attachment had a greater negative impact on the perceived personal rejection and pathological Internet use of left-behind children with high emotional intelligence compared with those of students with low emotional intelligence. These findings reveal the need for more support and interventions aimed at strengthening peer attachment and emotional intelligence of left-behind primary and secondary children and reducing their perceptions of personal rejection, which, in turn, reduces their pathological Internet use.