Academic journal article Indian Journal of Community Psychology

Internet Use among Postgraduate Students: Role of Gender and Type of Family

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Community Psychology

Internet Use among Postgraduate Students: Role of Gender and Type of Family

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Internet use is recognized as an essential part of modern life. Owing to web-based technologies and increases of internet access in Latin America and Asia, Internet use has increased dramatically across the world reaching the number of global internet users more than 2.3 billion in 2011.

The internet is a vast collection of world-wide inter-connected networks. In this new world of internet connectivity people can share their experiences, ideas, suggestions and problems. People try to exert influence to get fast responses and reactions from friends and strangers. The internet has become very powerful because the internet contains the biggest resource of information in the entire world and it enables people to obtain an interactive mechanism to instantly communicate with each other. Especially the internet is becoming more and more important for nearly everybody.

There is a big influence of internet technology on our daily life. Problems arising by excessive internet use have been documented worldwide. The internet has some positive aspects but there are also negative aspects to the information highway. There is now some concern from educators and psychologist about the impact of the internet on the physical, cognitive and social development of children. The main use of the internet for teenagers is to play games, to listen to music, and to meet new people. For youth, the negative aspects of the internet include internet addiction as well as online risks such as exposure to sexually explicit material and online victimization including harassment or cyber bullying and sexual solicitation.

The internet provides access to a vast amount of information for college students, as well as a wealth of activities not related to college study. When used as a tool for content study, it is a powerful resource that has faster, easier, and broader access to interdisciplinary information than traditional libraries (Kasper, Loretta, 2002); However, the free, unlimited access to the internet has become problematic for a growing number of college students (Potera, Carol, 2006). New terms like "internet addiction", internet dependence", and "pathological computer use" have evolved. As put forth by Caplan (2005) problematic internet usage is a multi-dimensional syndrome composed of cognitive and behavioral symptoms causing negative social, academic/professional outcomes. According to this perspective, the term internet addiction on its own is not encompassing enough hence the terms pathologic or problematic have also found place in literature.

The results of frequent internet use, particularly among college students, have become a highly controversial issue (Anderson, 2001; Davis, Smith, Rodrigue, & Pulvers, 1999; Grayson & Schwartz, 2000; Kandell, 1998; Leon & Rotunda, 2000). Still, there remains a paucity of research on the subject, including the types and reasons for use, and their consequences. Given the rapid level of growth, both professionals and researchers must recognize the issue as one worth investigating, particularly with respect to the mental health professions. For example, while depression among adolescents is relatively common, recent studies among college students and high school seniors have found an association between heavy internet use and increased levels of depression (Sanders, Field, Diego, & Kaplan, 2000; Young & Rogers, 1998). Moreover, another recent study at a Denver Public Health HIV Counseling and Testing site found that of the 856 heterosexual male clients (age range: 20-50) studied, those who sought sexual partners on the internet were at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases than clients who did not seek sex on the internet (McFarlane, Bull & Rietmeijer 2000).

There are numerous debates on the link between gender and internet usage. Many researchers are aware of gender inequality in internet usage. Teo and Lim's (1997) study in Singapore indicated that there is a deferential access between boys and girls in terms of technology. …

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