Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Growing Up Perfect: Perfectionism, Problematic Internet Use, and Career Indecision in Emerging Adults

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Growing Up Perfect: Perfectionism, Problematic Internet Use, and Career Indecision in Emerging Adults

Article excerpt

Career consolidation is considered a primary developmental task of emerging adulthood (ages 18 to 30 years; Arnett, 2004, 2006), yet increased numbers of individuals in this age group feel aimless and experience a lack of direction or purpose (European Group for Integrated Social Research, 2001; Evans & Heinz, 1994; Shulman, Blatt, & Feldman, 2006). Chao and Gardner (2007) noted that this generation's emerging adults, who were raised in relative affluence, tend to be more experimental compared with their counterparts of previous generations and "are more likely to move from job to job, looking for the right job, ... surf on the Internet, moving from site to site, looking for the right information" (p. 3).

At times, it may be difficult to distinguish emerging adults who are moving from job to job to explore their career options from their peers who are experiencing career decision-making difficulties. Gati, Krausz, and Osipow (1996) developed the Career Decision-Making Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ) to identify the source of decision-making difficulty on the basis of their comprehensive analysis of the responses from a panel of vocational psychologists and 200 career counseling clients. Five subscales on the CDDQ measure some aspect of information regarding career indecision. By including these five subscales, the authors acknowledged the importance of accessing and using available information in the career decision-making process.

Lack of information includes four difficulty categories: (a) lack of knowledge about the steps involved in the process of career decision making, (b) lack o fin formation about the self (c) lack of information about the various occupations, and (d) lack of information about the ways of obtaining additional information. (Gati et al., 1996, p. 512)

In addition to the category of Lack of Information, the CDDQ includes an Inconsistent Information category, which measures difficulties in determining information validity.

Emerging adults are deeply immersed in the technology revolution and quite facile with its tools (Gore, Leuwerke, & Krumboltz, 2002). So, why has the voluminous amount of information available on the Internet failed to improve this generation's ability to consolidate their careers? To answer this question, we explored the characteristics of both the technology and emerging adults.

* The Technology

Whether hailed or vilified, the Internet has changed nearly every facet of people's lives (Bargh & McKenna, 2004; Lehmann, 2009). The Internet provides a rich resource for the exploration of career information, job openings, and labor market statistics, yet the amount of information can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to determine the accuracy of information, especially when faced with contradictory information. Furthermore, because of the sheer volume, becoming lost or sidetracked on the information superhighway is a common occurrence.

Problematic Internet use (PIU), sometimes referred to as Internet addiction or computer addiction (Caplan, 2002), is an increasing concern with respect to both consequences (e.g., social isolation, anxiety, interpersonal problems) and risk factors (e.g., shyness, locus of control, poor self-esteem; Chak & Leung, 2004; Morahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000). Emerging adults with PIU struggle to reduce their preoccupation with and use of the Internet (see Byun et al., 2009, and Douglas et al., 2008, for a review of recent studies). Frequently, others in their social network are distressed by their Internet use. Emerging adults with the following behaviors are likely to have PIU: (a) increased difficulties with work, school, or home commitments; (b) increased use with less enjoyment as well as increased restlessness, irritability, and anxiety when not online; (c) an inability to control use of the Internet either by diminishing or stopping use; and (d) continued use of Inter net despite experience of physical, psychological, and social problems associated with its use (Young, 1998). …

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