The use of internet in the world is known to be increasing yearly, based on technological innovations. Currently, it is approximated that 1.11 billion people used the internet in 2007, 1.67billion in 2009 and 1.97 billion in 2010. This proves that internet use among teenagers is ever increasing in the digitally literate countries.
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Upward trend in the internet usage can be attributed to the needs and motivation among individuals. For instance, the need for information and communication, as well as motivation for entertainment has pushed people to adopt internet usage across the world.
Review of existing literature proves that the internet has several advantages that cannot be disputed by any person. However, the same internet is blamed for causing social problems among the teenagers such as rape, early marriages and other social crimes, mainly because the internet is unregulated and is used excessively by the youths.
In 2008, Morahan-Martin examined the effects associated with the internet and concluded that many people abuse the internet meaning that the internet is used by some individuals negatively, either to affect their own lives or the lives of other societal members.
Some scholars such as Young (1998) refer to this condition as internet addiction, meaning a type of impulse control turmoil. In general, the internet is accused of changing an individual’s school and work associated activities, interpersonal relations, mood swings.
Due to the above problems, this paper will conduct a study to establish the facts and recommend solutions to the existing internet associated problems. The paper will first look at the problem in detail before proceeding to review existing literature. The researcher will then conduct an experiment by employing a particular research design.
In the contemporary society, the rate at which teenagers embrace digital technologies is higher as compared to the rate at which adults adopt it. In the US for instance, age group belonging to 16-24 uses the internet more than any other age group in the country. In 2009, one of the research firms referred to as comScore reported that 15-year-old teenagers used the internet more than any other group in Europe.
It is therefore factual that teenagers use the internet more than any other group, meaning that they are vulnerable to internet addiction or abuse. This would further cause instabilities in families and in society generally. Since teenagers are the main customers of internet products and are drivers of digital contents, they are prone to manipulation in the market.
Many producers target the youths by designing goods that would appeal to their feelings, lifestyles and standards. Since each producer targets them, teenagers find themselves in tricky situations as regards to internet use. Psychologists observe that teenagers are always unlike since the adolescent stage of development tempts them to engage in funny behaviors.
Therefore, the internet would only exist to worsen the situation. Based on this fact, researchers and scholars have developed empirical studies to address these problems. Such studies would help school administrators, teachers, parents and counselors to come with informed policies that would help eliminate social problems associated with internet usage.
In this regard, this study would attempt to come up with recommendations aimed at addressing existing problems associated with teenagers. Even though several scholars have developed prolific studies to address the problem at hand, many of their findings on socio-demographic disparities are sparse or full of loopholes.
Existing literature shows that gender is one of the important variables that should be considered when undertaking such studies. Few scholars talked about gender differences in cyber psychology studies. This study would focus more on the role of gender in internet addiction or abuse.
Existing literature proves that male teenagers are more likely to engage in internet crimes as opposed to their female counterparts. Another demographic variable that has not been discussed is the effect of socio-economic status. In the US, is factual that society is differentiated on the level of economic development. In some states, digital divide is still a variable that affects economic development.
Therefore, it is advisable to consider socio-economic variables when conducting cyber psychology studies. Upon realization that focused research was needed to determine the role of gender and socio-economic status in internet use, the researcher came up with some research questions to guide this study.
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Based on the findings of Beard (2005), the researcher noted that internet use might perhaps be affected by various socio-cultural factors such as family inconsistencies, peer representation, societal expectations, the rate at which the internet penetrates the society, lack of particular social dexterities, educational point of reference, and value belief in society regarding the internet.
- What is the short-term problem associated with internet addiction among teenagers on family relationships?
- What is the long-term problem associated with internet addition among teenagers on family relationships?
- What are the suggestions of the participants on the alternative and effective way of dealing with the problems above?
- What are the recommendations of participants on the same?
Several scholars have not been able to define clearly, what exactly constitutes cyber bullying in their studies. Each researcher has always defined cyber bullying based on his or her viewpoint. As Shariff (2008) would put it, it is always advisable to put a certain action in mind considering its context, time and its effects to the lives of individuals. Defining cyber bullying would entail bearing in mind that time and context is of essence.
In this regard therefore, it is important for school administrators to recognize and come up with effective policies that would address issues related to cyber bullying. This would include incorporating the teenagers in the formulation of policies. Bullying was considered a rite of passage in the traditional society.
In the modern society, research shows that a bully is always a male who might be of similar age with the victims or a bit older. Furthermore, research shows that bullies are usually individuals with leadership qualities, which attracts others around them.
Traditionally, bullying was executed manually, verbally or through emotional avenues. In the modern society, cyber bullying refers to the instances where the individual uses the internet to interfere with the rights and freedoms of others. Again, it is established that bullies in the modern world tend to learn the bullying behavior from outside sources.
Traditionally bullying was easy to handle since children could rush home after school to minimize contact hours between themselves and the bullies. Cyber bullying is challenging because teenagers are with the bullies whenever they interact with the internet. This would take place anywhere including in school, home, bedrooms and even in their playgrounds.
School administrators, as well as other scholars have noted that cyber bullying have the same effects as other forms of bullying in the traditional society. On the other hand, those who bully others online have the same intentions as those of traditional bullies. The main aim of the bully is to gain power in order to control or even suppress others.
The main problem that law enforcers face is the anonymity nature of the cyber bully. In other words, it is hard to establish a bully since they hide their profiles in the internet. However, researchers suggest that the only way to identify a bully is to comprehend the motive behind his or her actions. For instance the main motives could be revenge, urge for power, vengeance and accidental.
Exploitation of children through the internet is an issue that should be addressed by researchers since it is in the increase. The problem emerged in 1990s, with the advent of the internet. In the modern society, the concern is about three factors one being child pornography, unwanted sexual solicitation and child prostitution, widely referred to as sex tourism.
When tackling these issues, a number of factors are to be considered, including definitions, features of both offenders and victims, and how the law treats the perpetrators. Due to these issues, researchers need to come up with studies that would shed light on the policies made by policy makers.
Existing statistics show that a large number of teenagers are involved in sex solicitation mainly because they are innocent and illiterate. A study conducted in 2004 in the neighboring country, Canada, showed that 64.2 of citizens had access to computers. In homes, 55.5% of all members of the family could access the internet.
In the US, an approximated nine out ten children have an access to the internet, according to the research conducted by Ybarra in 2006. In the UK, current data shows that 50% of teenagers access the internet in homes. In the same study, it was noted that children aged five to eight years could access the internet at about 68%.
Furthermore, almost all schools in the UK could access the internet, with a mean score of about 99%. In Australia, 86% of all teenagers could access the internet according to a study conducted by Fleming in 2006. The above statistics show that children can easily access the internet, which predisposes them to unwanted sexual solicitation.
In the modern world, child pornography is a common form of crime that lawmakers are trying to cope with unsuccessfully. Lawmakers find it hard to define the word ‘child’ because of the existing discrepancies. The UN defines a child as an individual under the age of 18.
In Canada, there are various categories of children, each with its own meaning ranging from 16 to 19. What is clear among scholars and other stakeholders in child rearing is that the internet has increased child pornography. This is because it increases the ease of access, manufacture and trade of child pornographic material.
Before the emergence of the internet, it was near to impossible to acquire child pornographic material. At those times, an individual had to acquire pornographic material from licensed dealers, whose profiles were well known by authorities. In the past, an individual could not engage in child pornography fearing the wrath of society.
Currently, the internet has introduced an issue of anonymity, which acts as a milestone to children abusers. Furthermore, the time taken to send a pornographic material is cited as one of the factors that have allowed the circulation of child pornography.
In this study, the type of sampling used was cluster sampling whereby participants were recruited based on the high school sample of 15 schools in the city. The type of the school was utilized as a grouping variable in this study.
Moreover, the schools were clustered into three major groups, including vocational n=8, general n=4, and Anatolian schools, n=8. The researcher came up with a decision that the order would represent the ascending order of internet use among children in schools.
Owing to the limitation of resources and time, only five schools were proportionally chosen from the three groups. Moreover, the sampling was done randomly to avoid any biases. In total, fifty students were interviewed successfully during the process of data collection.
Procedures and Instruments
In this study, data was obtained through a standardized data collection tool referred to as questionnaire. Students were given questionnaires to fill at the end of the semester, given that they had enough time to go through all questions and consult whenever they did not understand the questions.
To keep off from unnecessary prejudice and ensure validity, the researcher designed the questions after going through the available literature carefully. In addition, the researcher handed over the questionnaire to relevant school authorities in order to ensure validity. The permission to gather information through the questionnaire was granted by the school administration.
Before collection of data, the respondents were informed in time in order to enable them prepare amicably for the study. It should be mentioned at this stage that students were never given any incentive to encourage them to fill the questionnaires. Furthermore, those filling the questionnaires were assured of the safety since the information would not be shared with any other authority, except school authorities.
The questionnaire used to collect data in this study had three major sections. Section one contained a number of multiple choice questions. The questions requested students to provide their background information, their gender (either female or male), the type of the school attended (vocational, general, Anatolian), the socio-economic status of their family (low, middle, high) and their current academic performance in class (poor, average, good).
The second section of the questionnaire touched on internet usage among students. The section utilized a special scale referred to as Lickert scale to measure the rate at which students used the internet. Furthermore, the second section was interested in obtaining information as regards to the places that students access the internet. Students would give their views whether they use the internet on everyday basis or not.
The last section, section three, had an Internet Addiction Test instrument, as proposed by Young (1998). The test is believed to be standard for measuring the rate at which students are addicted to the internet.
The instrument was selected in this study because it is known to provide valid results and reliable measures. The IAT usually contain 20 questions that ask students to give their views as regards to how often they use the internet.
After collecting data through the questionnaire, the questionnaires were coded in order to measure the items. After coding, all questions were entered to special software referred to as SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences, version 20).
The researcher would then run the software to determine the frequency and percentage analyses in order to verify any possibility of slip-ups generated during data entry process. Furthermore, this would help in explaining the variables.
For the scores obtained from the IAT items, the researcher commanded the software to produce measures of central tendency and variability. At the end, the researcher conducted the ANOVA analysis to establish the variations between means.
Through the study, the researcher established that the internet usage rate is higher in the city (77%), as compared to other American cities. The city could be ranked as the top cities in terms of internet usage because participants admitted to use the internet 32 hours in average. In the city, teenagers are known to use the internet more as compared to other categories.
It was upon this realization that the researcher opted to conducted this study to establish exactly how prevalent internet usage is among American schools. Through this, the researcher would establish the effects of internet abuse and addiction to family cohesion. Students were found to be addicted to the internet, which at times were likely to abuse it.
Available literature revealed some variations mainly because of differences in the instruments used, samples and socio-cultural milieus. After evaluating the available literature from other parts of the world, scholars concluded that internet abuse and addiction range from 4.6% to 4.7% among teenagers, 18.4% among mature students and 6% to 15% among general members of society.
In this study, the rate at which teenagers use the internet was higher as compared to studies conducted in other parts of the world such as Turkey and Sweden. This is because, in the US, the culture of collectivism is low as compared to Scandinavian and African societies.
As Hofstede could observe in his cultural dimension theory in 2001, individuals in collectivist societies have string family ties whereby young members of society are assisted by relatives, friends and family members to achieve their goals in society.
In this case, the teenagers would tend to be loyal to their elders and members of their families in return for emotional support. In the American society, this is not the case because teenagers are given the freedom to determine their destinies hence allowing the internet to take over the primary role of the family, which is socialization.
Through this, teenagers are left at the mercy of the cyber criminals, who utilize this chance to lure teenagers into antisocial cyber behavior.
It can be concluded that even though the internet has brought about many changes to the human live, parents are left wondering on next the internet would do to their teenagers. Parents are concerned that the internet has taken over their primary role. For instance, the internet is accused of interfering with the social, psychosomatic, educational and emotional development of teenagers.
Scholars and policy makers in government are faced with a major challenge of coming up with the best ways through which cyber crime could be contained. This paper focused majorly on internet abuse and addiction in one of the cities in the US.
The paper explored how demographic variables would affect teenager’s behavior as regards to internet usage. The study shows that the rate at which teenagers are addicted to the internet in the city is higher as compared to other studies conducted in societies with collective culture, such as Eastern Europe.
Beard, K. (2005). Internet addiction: A review of current assessment techniques and potential assessment questions. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 8(1), 7–14.
Fleming, M. (2006). Safety in Cyberspace: Adolescents’ Safety and Exposure Online. Youth & Society, 38(2), 135-154
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Morahan–Martin, J. (2008). Psychological aspects of cyberspace: Theory, research, applications. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Shariff, S. (2008). Cyberbullying: Issues and solutions for the school, the classroom and the home. New York: Routledge.
Young, K. (1998). Caught in the Net: How to recognize the signs of Internet addiction—and a winning strategy for recovery. New York: Wiley Publishing.