A Study on the Effect of Internet Use and Social Capital on the Academic Performance

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DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIETY Volume 35 Number 1, June 2006, pp. 107~123

Soongsil University This study examined the condition of Internet use and social capital, as well as its effects on teenager’s academic performance. We analyzed survey data of 361 high school students. The study findings suggest that the Internet expands its reach to teenagers’ school life. First, students are more reliant on the Internet to access to information that is involved in school life as well as entertainment. Second, teenagers tend to manage their social capital through the Internet. Third, the result of regression analysis indicates that Internet use time irrespective of purposes is less likely to influence academic performance, while in-degree centrality and ego-network efficiency are more likely to exert positive influence on academic performance. Key Words: Internet, Social Capital, Academic Performance, Network Analysis.

INTRODUCTION The Internet exerts increasingly more influence on our everyday life. Internet-based activities expand their reach beyond the economic and social fields. A growing number of Internet users spend their leisure time in the cyber community. Recent studies indicate that age is a more important variable than schooling or income in determining Internet use (The korea Economic Daily, 2004). Consequently, it is not surprising that 94.8% of teenagers use the Internet (Ministry of Information and Communication, 2005). This propensity suggests that teenagers may consider the cyber space as a real rather than virtual space. The Internet has a Janus face. On the one hand, it gives every facility for us. More importantly, it is usually considered as a window of opportunity for the alienated. On the other hand, anonymity in the cyber space makes people insensible to abuse on the Internet. It brings about all sort of antisocial actions, infringement of intellectual property right, and leakage of private information. In spite of the two-edged effect, it is clear that we can not do without the Internet. Especially unlike the previous generation not exposed to the cyber culture before socialization, the influence of the cyber culture on the teenagers’ socialization is rapidly growing. In this sense, the *

This work was supported by the Ewha Woman’s University Research Grant of 2003.



social activity of teenagers in the cyber community is a barometer indicating the future image of our society as well as teenagers themselves. Recently the conversation on relational theorization introduced a new perspective on which we are heavily reliant to discuss social matters. For example, deviant subculture theory was a dominant theoretical perspective to analyze teenager’s deviation. As deviant subculture makes teenagers insensible to deviation behaviors, selective friendship with those involved in the crime is considered as a key variable to predict deviation. Many criminologists attempted to identify teenagers who were more likely to be involved in deviation. They used individual attributes such as age, sex, education, parent’s education and income to construct an predictive model (Smelser, 1981: 86-89). However, the core to which the deviant subculture theory attempted to assess was not individual attributes but the selective choice between friends. We can suggest a better alternative than previous studies which were based on individual attributes by constructing a theory on the basis of measuring actual relations between teenagers. For this purpose, relational theorization, which became available due to remarkable development in the field of social science, must be the only relevant research approach. The concept of social capital plays a critical role in applying Relational theorization in research. Coleman (1990) defines social capital as a substance defined by function that has two common...
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