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Monday, September 7, 2015

Usage of the Internet and Its Effect On Youth Development

Abstract

These days, more information is presented to more people from more sources than at any time in human history. This study was designed by applying the Uses and Gratification theory framework, to understand Internet usage among students. The objectives of this study are to identify the relationship between purpose of using the Internet, pattern of Internet usage and Internet skill with the gratification of Internet usage as a mediation variable and positive youth development (PYD). The objectives for this study are to determine the mediating effects of Internet gratification usage between purposes of Internet usage, Internet skill, and patterns of Internet usage and positive youth development. The present study used a survey design to achieve its objectives. This study found a significant and positive relationship between purposes of Internet usage with gratification of Internet usage. Also, the purpose of Internet usage has significant relationship with connection and confidence in PYD dimension. The relationship between gratification of Internet usage and five dimensions of positive youth development is positive and significant. The relationship between pattern of using Internet and the character dimension in positive youth development is significant. There is no relationship between Internet skill and 5 dimensions of PYD.

Patterns of Internet Usage

Asemi, studied information-searching habits of Internet users in a medical science university in Isfahan. She found that 87 % of the students accessed the Internet in the facility, and that 15 % logged in four hours a day, 76 % two hours a day and 54 %an hour daily. Their purposes for using the Internet were: searching for information for research (55 %), looking up general information such as travel and tourism (37 %) and downloading music, movies, etcetera (8%). Twenty-eight percent did research work, 41 %, read e-journals and 37% checked email. Yahoo and Google are the most popular and widely used search engines with 61% and 68 %, respectively. Fifty four percent of the respondents said that they “Always find useful information,” while 51% mentioned that the “Internet has the best source of information.”

The Internet can be accessed from a variety of locations – home, office, library, school, museum, hotel, airport, etc. The most common place for users to access the Internet is from home (94%), followed by the office (53%), and while traveling (36%). Libraries are used as places from which to access the Internet by about one third of all Internet users. Less than one third of users (31%) access the Internet from public libraries. However, there are some who access the Internet from other types of libraries as well. Out of the variety of libraries used by those who use the library to access the Internet, public libraries are the most common type of library (93%), followed by school libraries (16%), special (medical, law, government) libraries (10%) and college or university libraries (6%).

Internet Skill

The concept of Internet skills is just one of many concepts that have resulted from the rapid diffusion of digital technologies in society. Internet experience is positively related to how long an individual has used the Internet. Novak, Hoffman and Yung define skills as a user’s capacity for action during the online navigation process. Users who have used the Internet for longer periods are more likely to use the Internet for task-oriented activities, for instance, looking for reference material or product information, conducting research and shopping

Gratification of Internet Usage

Paul Lazarsfeld and Frank Stanton published a series of work during World War II that focused on how audiences use the media in their daily life. Herzong, a student of Lazarsfeld, used the term ‘gratifications’ in 1944 in media research history and is often credited as the founder of the Uses and Gratifications theory. Herzong was interested in why women enjoyed soap operas. She conducted a research investigating the Uses and Gratifications of radio soap operas (Herzong, cited in Baran and Davis).

Rubin mentioned that people use communication media to fulfill their variety of needs. Windahl noted that the main difference between the traditional effects theory and Uses and Gratifications theory in mass communication is usually examined from the point of view of communicators for the former, while the members of audience is a starting point in Uses and Gratifications study. According to Blumer and Katz , for both society and individuals, the media serve the functions of surveillance, correlation, entertainment and cultural transmission. Blumler, Katz and Gurevitch said that the Uses and Gratifications theory was an attempt to explain how individuals use the media to satisfy their needs and achieve their goals instead of the media having ultimate power over the viewer.

The assumptions of the U&G theory put forward by Denis McQuail, quoted by Stafford et al are:
  1. Media selection and use is purposive and motivated, and people take the initiative in selecting and using communication vehicles to satisfy felt needs and desires.
  2. The audience is active.
  3. Based on previous experience with the media, the audience makes motivated choices, and
  4. In everyday life, the media use is only one way amongst others to satisfy needs.
Blumler and Katz summarized the theory as one concerned with: (1) the social and psychological origins of (2) needs, which generates (3) expectations of (4) the mass media or other sources, which lead to (5) differential patterns of media exposure or engagement in other activities, resulting in (6) needs gratification and (7) other consequences, perhaps mostly unintended ones. Dimmick, Sikand and Patterson noted that this approach views the audience member as being a user who makes conscious and motivated choices in the selection of media and content.

Katz, Gurevitch and Haas studied people’s use of the mass media to meet specific needs, and presented a five-fold classification of needs, which they say all media users essentially have. These are
  1. Cognitive needs: Needs related to strengthening of information, knowledge and understanding of our environment.
  2. Affective needs: Needs related to strengthening aesthetic, pleasurable and emotional experience.
  3. Personal Integrative needs: Needs related to strengthening credibility, confidence, stability and status of the individuals.
  4. Social Integrative needs: Needs related to strengthening contact with family, friends and the world.
  5. Escapist needs: Needs related to escape, release tension and the desire for diversion.

Positive Youth Development

The PYD approach builds upon what have become known as the “Five Cs”: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character and Caring . Researchers theorized that youth whose lives incorporated this Five Cs would be on a developmental path that would result in the development of a Sixth C: Contributions to self, family and community, and to the institutions of a civil society. Such contributions are envisioned to have both a behavioral (action) constituent and an ideological component, for instance, the young person possesses a characteristic that specifies such contributions are predicated on moral and civic duty .

On the other hand, when youth believe that they should contribute to self and context and when they act on these beliefs, they will both reflect and promote further advances in their own positive development and, also, the health of their social world. Additionally, Lerner mentioned that those youth whose lives contained lower amounts of the Five Cs would be at higher risk for a developmental path that consists of personal, social and behavioral problems and risks.

Integrating the theoretical ideas about the plasticity of adolescent development and the practical findings about the multiple pathways children take through adolescence led to the framework now known asPYD, which views young people as resources to be developed rather than as problems to be managed .

This relationship between PYD and risk/problem behaviors, though, was not seen as simple or uniform. The plasticity of development meant that some children from some homes, schools and communities that lacked resources and supports demonstrated themselves to be resilient and resistant to problems. Others who came from environments filled with resources and supports were drawn nonetheless into numerous troubles. However, in general, PYD examiners hypothesized that the availability of activities that supported the Five Cs would help steer young people toward a life of successful contribution 31.