The Benefits/Non-benefits of Online Interactions
The internet has become a more and more relied upon medium in peoples' everyday lives over the past decades since its inception. People use it to do their shopping, do their taxes, research any number of topics, and engage in communications. People send emails to one another, receive online help with various problems, and carry on real time conversations using chat rooms and instant messengers. Several studies have been completed to test whether this seemingly increasing reliance on internet-mediated social communication is beneficial or detrimental to communication skills and social interaction. It has been found in these previous studies that the results are quite contradicting. Such studies that are developed to test the positive nature of this new communication medium have found that the internet is complimentary and that relationships borne online are healthy and have positive implications. One such study, "Online Chat Rooms: Virtual Spaces of Interaction for Socially Oriented People," found that online relationships are not only rich and genuine in character, but are more quickly set up and straight-forward than face-to-face encounters, cutting out the uncomfortable first meeting jitters that many people face. In an on-the-go society, this is very appealing and beneficial. Another study which revealed the positive attributes of internet-mediated communication is "Psychological Predictors of Internet Social Communication." This study concluded that online social communication is more likely to be an outlet for sociable persons, rather than a compensatory mechanism for the shy and anxious. Each study reveals that communication online is an extension of traditional social behaviors, not a replacement. Other proposals seek to find the relationship between internet communication and diminishing social skills, also relating loneliness and depression to increasing dependency on the World Wide Web. "Loneliness and Social Uses of the Internet" provides findings that the internet is associated with loneliness and social anxiety in a vice-versa relationship. It reports that loneliness often times leads to individuals' reliance on internet companionship, while also creating this detachment from the face-to-face social world. A similar correlation was made in the study entitled "Preference for Online Social Interaction- A Theory of Problematic Internet use and Psychosocial Well-Being." This study suggested that lonely and depressed people develop a predilection for internet contact, and would lead to negative results interrelated to their online time. This study's suggestions were backed by their findings. The results of these articles give a need for further study to determine the close relationship between amount of internet use and proficient social skills. This idea is important because of the growing importance put upon the internet, and its seeming replacement of traditional social interaction for the younger generations. In laymen's terms, how much is too much for the development of younger minds and their social skills.
For this proposal, the idea is that online interactions are complimentary to traditional, face-to-face relations, to a certain extent. When exceeded, it becomes a less personal, detrimental way of communicating, retarding customary social skills. With excess internet use, people, teens to young adults in particular, are becoming socially inept outside the realm of email and instant message. We hypothesis that internet use, and social skills, have a curvilinear relationship, where, communication, knowledge, relationships, and other online interactions are beneficial for an individuals growth, to a point. Exceeding that point will cause a detrimental effect on social skills and outward interaction. (The Null Hypothesis states that there is not a relationship between number of hours spent on the internet and...
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