Excessive Internet Use and Loneliness among Secondary School Students

Article excerpt

The association between loneliness and excessive internet use among secondary school students was examined. One hundred and sixty seven secondary school students were administered a questionnaire for some demographic questions and UCLA for determining their loneliness levels. The results showed that the secondary school students who reported greater hours of engagement on the Internet have higher loneliness levels than the average users.

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The estimated number of Internet users in the world for June 30,2008 is 1,463,632,361 and the penetration is 21.9%, based on the world population estimate of 6,676,120,288 persons for mid-year 2008 (internet World Stats, 2008). Internet use and the number of users in Turkey have also increased in every part of life ranging teenagers to older individuals. According to the results of the "ICT usage survey on households and individuals" carried out by Turkish Statistical Institute in 2007, this dramatic increase has been clearly underlined. The statistics shows that 18.94% of households have access to the internet at home, and the proportion of all the individuals in 14-74 age groups is 29.46% and internet use is 26.67%. The dramatic increase can be clearly seen when these statistics have been compared to the results of the same survey conducted in 2005 that only 8.66% of households have access to internet, the proportion of all the individuals in 14-74 age groups is 17.65%, and internet use is 13.93%. This figure that nearly doubles in two years time proves that individuals in Turkey have a great interest and willingness to the use of new information and communication technologies. By considering, the age group proportion of computer use and internet use of individuals is the highest in 16-24 age groups; 34.08% and 27.80% respectively (TURKSTAT, 2007).

16-24 age group comprises the students at the age of secondary education and university in Turkey; so it is necessary that internet is used to get information and make project on studies about school and to do homeworks by students. In their attempts, students are encouraged also by their teachers in accord with the constructivist learning approach implemented at schools. On the other hand, they are already expected to participate in social activities like playing online games or chatting to spend their leisure times or to have fun. All these activities of any such kind will not cause problem as long as the internet is used carefully. However, there will be some troubles in private life or in business or school lives if the usage of internet exceeds, no matter what the purpose is. This case indicates the internet addiction, described by Young (1996).As stated, the internet addiction starts at younger ages than the drug addiction and includes the risk group of those between 12 and 18 (Ozturk, Odabasioglu, Eraslan, Genc & Kalyoncu, 2007). The heavy increase in internet usage of those especially between 16 and 24 causes many problems as well because of their ages. Therefore, it is of great importance that the internet usage of the people in this age group is scrutinized.

In the studies carried out lately (Chak & Leung, 2004; Ebeling-Witte, Frank, & Lester, 2007; Ozcan & Buzlu, 2007; Weiser, 2001), the relationship between internet usage, internet addiction or problematic internet use in private, and various social or psychological factors are reviewed. One of the matters in question is about whether internet alienates its users from society and leads to isolation. There are studies which show that those often using internet are at low level of loneliness-social loneliness in particular (Moody, 2001; Shaw & Gant, 2002), and that, on the other hand, some other studies show that those using internet excessively are at high level of loneliness-emotional loneliness in particular (Caplan, 2003; Engelberg & Sjoberg, 2004). Therefore, the relationship between excessive internet use and loneliness need to be still studied on. …