Internet Use: College Students and the Online World

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Internet usage is increasing rapidly among the general population but even greater among college students, leading to pathological use, or Internet addiction, for some students. Internet addiction is defined as a psychological dependence on the internet and is characterized by; anxiety, depression, emptiness when offline, an increasing tolerance to the effects of being online, and denial of the challenging behaviors (Kandell, 1998). College students are more vulnerable to developing internet addiction than most other segments of society since they were born into the internet generation. In the present paper, the role of college students and their use of the internet are examined. It is hypothesized that college students will have a high dependency for the internet where it gets extreme and falls into the addiction category. The following ten literature reviews attempt to demonstrate and support this hypothesis.

In one research study done by Leo Reisberg (2000) internet dependency is described as a problem that affects at least 10 percent of the college students that were examined and surveyed in his study. From 1998-99 1,300 students at seven American institutions and one in Northern Ireland were observed. It was found that at least 10 percent of the college students were on the internet so often that it interfered with their grades, health, and social lives. Students who were characterized as internet-dependent spent an average of 229 minutes a day online for nonacademic reasons. It was learned that 6 percent of all the students spent an average of almost seven hours a day of using the internet. “Grades decline, mostly because attendance declines. Sleep patterns go down. And they become socially isolated” (Reisberg, 2000). It was concluded that college students were using the internet to an extreme, to the point where they missed class and receive low grades because of it. Reisberg saw that the problem of excessive internet use on campuses had grown and since colleges had made cyberspace more accessible to students the more they have glued themselves to their computer screens.

The outcome of this study indicated that students spent too much time online and it clearly showed in their academic performance. They missed class because their internet usage, it kept them from getting the proper amount of sleep which, in the long run, affected their grades negatively. These results supported the hypothesis of college students having a high internet dependency. These results showed that students were not meeting the essentials of their daily routines, such as sleep, because the internet seemed to absorb most of their time. It is concluded that college campuses started out as internet savvy but is now overly internet connected.

The next study of internet usage will be addressed in Pavica Sheldon’s (2008) research article through her survey and observations of social networking. She examines the relationship between unwillingness-to-communicate and the behavioral outcomes of Facebook use. Sheldon constructed a survey with 172 students at a large southern research university. The survey measured the basic demographics of her interviewees, their Facebook use, and the gratifications of their Facebook use. Sheldon felt that using Facebook as a way to communicate was weakening student’s interpersonal skills. The goal of this study was to examine the purpose for Facebook use and how these intentions relate to two dimensions of unwillingness-to-communicate, approach-avoidance, and reward (Sheldon 2008). Out of the students that were surveyed it was averaged that 47 minutes a day were spent on Facebook. The majority of students (50%) changed their profile every few months, 19% changed their profile everyday, and the majority of students had between 200 and 350 Facebook friends (Sheldon 2008). It was also found that those who were fearful of interpersonal interactions tended to have fewer Facebook friends than those who weren’t....
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