Theoretical Framework Of Internet Addiction Psychology Essay

23 Mar 2015

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The theoretical framework that this study used to discuss about internet addiction will be Uses and Gratifications theory. UG theory founded by Elihu Katz in 1959, when Herzog examined the reasons people use the radio to listen to quiz programme (Herzog, 1942), and soap operas (Herzog, 1944) (as cited in Katz, 1959). According to Katz (1959), the outcomes of media usage depend on why and how they decided to use the media. Therefore, there are two main components that discuss in U&G theory which are media that choose to be engaged and gratification that get from the media (Ruggiero, 2000). By explaining about the U&G theory, mainly this theory works operationally through the social and the psychological needs for individuals generating motives and expectation of mass media(Katz, 1959), and how individuals use media to satisfy their needs and to achieve their goals (as cited in Patrick, 2010).

Newhagen and Rafaeli (1996) mentioned that U&G theory is suitable for the internet because internet has something suitable for everyone, be it information-seeking, inter-personal communication, entertainment, or escapism. It just likes "chameleon-like character" (as cited in Patrick, 2010). According to Katz, Blumler, and Gurevitch (1974) U&G theory is commonly used to: "(1) Explain how the psychological and social needs of people give rise to their expectation and motivations to choose and to use the mass media that will best meet their needs and expectations, (2) Explain how people use the media to meet their specific needs, (3) Understand the motives for their dependency on a particular media, and (4) Identify the consequences that resulted from the needs, motives, and dependency on a particular media" (as cited in Patrick, 2010). (see Figure 1)

Figure 2.jpgFigure 1: Uses and Gratification Framework (Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1974 as cited in Patrick, 2010)

According to Wimmer and Dominick (1994), in between 1950 to 1960, many researches began identifying social and psychological factors that resulted in different patterns of media consumption and gratification. For instance, individual's mental ability and relationships with parents and peers influences the nature of children's television (Schramm, Lyle & Parker, 1961 as cited in Patrick, 2010). In 1970, U&G studies focused on audience motivation, which at the same time also proposed by McQuail, Blumler, and Brown mentioned that media serve four important functions at the level of the individual, which are "(1) Emotional release through escapism and diversion from routine or problems, (2) Social utility through companionship, (3) Value reinforcement or personal identity through reality exploration, and (4) Self enrichment through information surveillance". Hence, the factors and motivations which discussed just now will be modify and apply to this study. (see Figure 2)

chart 1.jpg Figure 2: Conceptual modified of Uses and Gratification model

Figure 2 shows the conceptual modified of U&G theory which apply to this study. In this study, the social factor stand for peer influence, and this peer influence affect both audience motivation that get from internet and also the consequences. For instance, if a person being influenced by the peer to using the internet (usage), the person will get the value reinforcement (audience motivation) by the peer as a sign to follow the peer and not being deviant to the peer group, then with the long hours in internet will addict to internet (consequences).

There is another example by using this theory model. Example like if now the social factors change to unpleasant peer relationship or problematic peer relationship, it will also affect the outcome of this theory. If a person facing an unsuccessful peer relationship in the real communication, the person will go into internet to seek for another social utility from internet (audience motivation) and also shown as escapism from problem (audience motivation) that the person facing currently. With the fully focus and gratification that the person get from internet, he or she might refuse to get out from the internet and at the end lead the person to internet addiction (consequences).

Factors and causes of Internet Addiction

According to Chou, Condron, and Belland (2005), there are few studies found that there is a relationship between internet addiction and users' social-psychological or personality variables, such as sensation seeking, pleasure experiences, use-and-gratification, loneliness, and depression. Besides that, there are also few significant factors which associated with the internet addiction such as, drinking behaviour, dissatisfaction with family, and experiences of stressful event (Lam, Peng, Mai, & Jing, 2009). There are two similarities in these two studies, both mentioned that internet addiction is due to the stressful event or depression that one encounter, and dissatisfaction with their social relationship (which are social loneliness and family relationship).

In Lam et al 's (2009) study, found that internet addiction is a behavioural manifestation of internal stress and stress is a known risk factor of addiction. Besides that, Esen and GündoÄŸdu (2010) stated that internet addiction might be an escape for adolescents when they cannot cope with the problems of life and one of the main problems is not be able to handle the pressure from peer. So, when adolescent feel stress due to some problem, they cannot cope with it, they will chose to escape from the real world to get into the imaginary world of internet.

On the other hand, Young (1996) found that there is 53% of internet addicts have experiencing important relationship problems, those might included family problem, friendship problem and soon. As a consequence, individual who experiences this kind of problem will feel hesitated to communicate with people in the real world to avoid the communication anxiety. Young (1997) had mentioned that internet provides dynamic social support group to the individual experiencing insufficient interpersonal relationships in real life, thus, person can take the emotional risks in the imaginary world than the real world (as cited in Esen & GündoÄŸdu, 2010).

At the same time, Lin, Lin and Wu (2009), pointed out that parental monitoring is an inhibitor in adolescents' internet addiction. Especially for parents, they should manage to supervise and guide their children in using computer and internet, and also control the amount of unsupervised time they spend alone (Lin, Lin, & Wu, 2009). Besides that, Kıran-Esen (2007) also mentioned in their study that parents and teacher support were significant predictors of internet addiction (as cited in Esen & GündoÄŸdu, 2010). Parents should always encourage their children to talk to them rather than talk to the computer, teacher also play an important role in educate students the correct to using internet and support them when they facing any problem, such as family problem or peer problem in school.

Moreover, Milani et al (2009) reported that with the advancement of new technologies, different online social support system start appears (as cited in Torres, 2010). People start sharing and communicate among one and another within the internet world and start seeking social support from internet, and this might lead them to the internet addiction. This is because, according to Torres (2010), online social support can enhance internet use. Moreover, the easy access to unlimited online information and little censorship also contribute to the problem of internet addiction (Patrick, 2010).

Social Group

According to Thomas (2011), adolescent normally do not make decision in a vacuum, rather they are highly influenced by the environment around them, especially within the social context (such as parent and peer). Eijnden, Spijkerman, Vermulst, Rooij, and Engels (2009) had reported that, parents are important and influential agents, and their parenting practices may promote or prevent the development of internet-related problems.

Besides that, as cited in Eijnden, Spijkerman, Vermulst, Rooij, and Engels (2009), Liu and Kuo (2007) mentioned about the quality of the parents-child relationship was negatively associated with the level of internet addiction among students. Moreover, in the same research pointed out that parent-adolescent conflict and lower satisfaction with family functioning we positively related to adolescent internet addiction ( Yen et al, 2007, Ko et al & Yen et al, 2007 as cited in Eijnden, Spijkerman, Vermulst, Rooij & Engels, 2009).

In year 2001, one of the Thomas studies stated that parent and peers actually influence adolescents' delinquent activity, specifically through the manner in which they influence adolescents' moral values (Thomas, 2011). Thomas (2011) explained that when an individual behaves in a manner that is consistent with the values of the social unit, the behaviour is viewed as rewarding to the individual, whereas behaviours that are inconsistent with the values of the social unit are seen as emotionally unfulfilling. So, adolescent might choose those activities which are match with the social value to avoid the social anxiety.

Catalano and Hawkins (1996) said individuals who are bonded to social unit which uphold antisocial values and beliefs are most likely to engage in antisocial or delinquent behaviours (as cited in Thomas, 2011). Hence, when individuals are strongly bond with their social unit, they will be influenced by the social value and follow the norm although the behaviour maybe not the healthy activity or activity that might bring negative consequences (Thomas, 2011).

Peer Influence

Parents and peer influence playing role in different areas in the lives of youth (Bowerman & Kinch, 1959; J.W. Young & Ferguson, 1979), and peer are more influential in decisions on social issues such as choice of friends and group membership (J.W. Young & Ferguous, 1979) (as cited in Patrick, 2010). According to Aseltine (1995), the peer group has traditionally been the center of attention in the sociological literature on adolescent deviance, there is research clearly documented the links between peer influence and substance use, as well as delinquent behaviour and antisocial values (Thomas, 2011).

A study done by Walker and Bean (2009) to examine adolescents' perceptions of negative and positive peer influence by using a sample of African American, European American, and Hispanic adolescents. In their study, they supported that association with deviant peers is often assumed to influence adolescents to engage in antisocial behaviour (negative influence), and the findings suggest that negative peer influence has stronger impact on adolescent behaviours than does positive peer influence. Besides, Brown and Klute (2006) mentioned that positive peer influence serve as a deterrent to negative behaviour and encouragement for positive behaviour (getting along with family and perform well in academic) (as cited in Walker & Bean, 2009).

Peer and Risky Behaviour

There is study done by Agrawal, Lynskey, Bucholz, Madden and Heath (2007) indicated that having peer with favourable attitudes towards cannabis use is an important correlate of starting in cannabis use. Besides, a research by Trucco, Colder and Wieczorek (2011) concluded that reinforcement and modelling of alcohol use appear to be important mechanisms by which delinquent peers influence the initiation of drinking among adolescents.

In Thomas' studies (2011) indicated that adolescent choose to engage in delinquent activity in spite of having a supporting and loving family, because the peer rewards were more salient. In such case, the pressure to get a higher reward from peer lead adolescent to engage in different behaviour, although the behaviour might be delinquent but, as long as is in favour of the values of the peer unit (Thomas, 2011).

Besides family support, adolescent seek support from their friends in order to satisfy unmet needs in the family environment (Nickerson & Nagle, 2005) and friendship are an extension of family relationships (Bowlby,1969; Wilkinson, 2004) (as cited in Patrick, 2010). Peer group provide appropriate socials roles, norms, values, and attitude for group member, such social role determine what pattern of behaviour is expected and in this case, influence the behaviour of the adolescent (Lombardi, 1963).

Dodge, Dishion, and Lansford (2006) stated that adolescent who are at risk for delinquency are susceptible to negative influences from deviant peers, and higher levels of deviant peer association were found to predict later increases in pro-delinquency beliefs which highlights the influence peers can have on adolescent beliefs about delinquency (Pardini, Loeber, and Stouthamer-Lober, 2005) (as cited in Thomas, 2011). Besides that, many research studies about juvenile delinquency stress the importance of peer groups in the form of bad neighbourhood, companions, and gangs (Lombardi, 1963).

Peer and Internet Addiction

Based on Harman, Hansen, Cochran, and Lindsey (2005), an internet addiction adolescent interact less with peers and have incompetent relationship quality. Normally, adolescent who are addicted to internet are having a poor peer relationship according to Sanders, Field, Diego, and Kaplan (2000) and Wang, Lee, and Chang (2003), they also experience the difficulty in making friends based on Mesch (2001), isolated socially (Nalwa &Anand, 2003) and had lower social skills and deficient relationship explained by Harman, Hansen, Cochran, and Lindsey (2005) (as cited in Esen & GündoÄŸdu, 2010). Moreover, Patrick (2010) revealed that people, who lack friends, also use the Internet more heavily to compensate socially, meaning that lack of friends may increase the motivation of online social interaction.

As cited in Esen & GündoÄŸdu (2010), Kiran-Esen (2007) found out that peer pressure is a significant predictor of internet addiction. Peer pressure is another variable discuss in internet addiction. According to Esen & GündoÄŸdu (2010), internet addiction and peer pressure are related variables, their result showed that the lower the peer pressure, the addiction of internet also decrease.

Gender differences in internet addiction

There are some empirical support about the notion that males are more subject to internet addiction, example like, according to Morahan-Martin and Schumacker (2000), males were more likely than females to be pathological users (which is 12% vs 3%), whereas females were more likely than males to have no symptoms (28% vs. 26%) or have limited symptoms (69% vs. 61%) of behavioural pathology (as cited in Chou, Condron, & Belland, 2005).

In Greece, there is studies found out that people who suffering from internet addiction are mostly young male, and also showing that the rates of exhibiting the disorder among females is increasing (Lam, Peng, Mai, &Jing, 2009). In Taiwan also, a study done by Griffiths (1998) showed that only three respondents were female students out of a total of 54 internet addiction cases gleaned from more than 900 Taiwan college student respondents (as cited in Chou, Condron, & Belland, 2005). Zhang, Amos, and McDowell (2008) also mentioned that male have higher level of internet addiction.

The notion that males are more subject to internet addiction has empirical support, such as according to Scherer (1997) indicated that dependent internet users included a significantly larger proportion of men to women (71% men and 29% women) than the non-dependent users (50% are men and women). Besides that, Lam, Peng, Mai, and Jing (2009) also reported that males are 50% more likely than females to be addicted to the internet. Moreover, according to Chou, Chondron, and Belland (2005), they concluded that men use internet differently from woman, and that men are more likely subject to internet addiction.

Women using internet differently than men, according to Jackson, Ervin, Gardner, and Schmitt (2001) , women are using internet more to communicate and maintain relationships online and men are mainly interested in less relational activities (as cited in Torres, 2010). Young (1998) had mentioned that women are usually more drawn to social and interactive aspects of the internet, and men are more likely to access the internet to play interactive video games (as cited in Torres, 2010).

Young (1998) found out that women normally seek out close friendship and prefer anonymous communication in which they can hide their appearance, have a sense of belonging and the ability to share their feelings and emotions in private and convenient ways; whereas men tend to seek out dominant activities or content online (which rely particularly on power, dominance, control, and violence) and also tend to explore sexual fantasies online (as cited in Chou, Condron, & Belland, 2005).

Summary

This section discussed the theoretical perspectives and major concept (social factor) that is used throughout this research. The application of Use and Gratifications (U&G) Theory explained how the social factor (peer influence) affect the adolescent engage in internet use and how to lead to internet addiction. Besides, above review also pointed out that many factors which cause one addicted to internet. The most influential factor could be social support group, and among so many social groups, the review discuss about how the peer influence the most in adolescent on risky behaviour. One of the risky behaviour which being discuss above is overly using internet, which will lead to internet addiction. In addition, the gender differences also playing a role in internet addiction.



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