Positive Effects of Internet Use by College Freshmen

Elizabeth A. Clark, Deborah Everhart


There is currently an increased interest in the effect of Internet use in the college student population, a group that may be particularly susceptible to problems related to online use because of the accessibility afforded them on campuses and due to their developmental stage of identity formation. The current study examined the relationship between quan- tity of Internet use and the common concerns of college students. An online student survey of behavior and concerns was administered to 182 college freshmen. The survey included demographic variables, ratings of satisfaction with various campus experiences, and ratings of level of concerns for 78 problems or issues that are often faced by college students. Freshman students who use the Internet for less than 10 hours per week were at least twice as likely as those who do not to report concern over feeling sad or depressed, not knowing how to study effectively, feeling lonely, jug- gling too many roles, and not living up to people’s expectations. Results showed that male students who were online more than 10 hours per week expressed significantly less concern about their emerging role definitions and autonomy. Female students who used the Internet for more than 10 hours per week reported significantly less concern about being sad or depressed. These results support the hypothesis that Internet use in college freshmen may represent a successful coping mechanism. This finding is discussed in relation to recent research reports on both detriments and benefits of online use by college students. 

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