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The study is specifically looking for answers to the three questions. The results first provide an explanation of what young people in Singapore and the UK do online. The results also reveal the truth about the detrimental impacts of excessive internet use, with a particular focus on academic performance, antisocial conduct, and cyberbullying. The study's findings finally reveal the truth about the advantages of young people using the internet. Today’s young people, especially teenagers aged between 15 to 18 years have become ‘digital natives, who have grown up with the internet and they have the capability to use it more comfortably and skillfully than many adults-for education, communication, and entertainment (Mcafee 2010, p. 3). Nonetheless, their increased participation in online activities has opened them to potential dangers including online threats and loss of personal information (Mcafee 2010, p. 3). In both Singapore and the United Kingdom, teenagers are mainly engaged in the same internet activities which are a trend that can be seen globally. According to a research report by Pew Research (2015), the increased availability and use of Smartphone among the young people has facilitated the widespread growth in the number of teens going online. According to Lim (2009), in Singapore, the constant access and convenience of mobile devices has seen the number of teenagers accessing the internet daily surge.
According to Mythily, Qiu, and Winslow (2008, p. 9-14), the most popular activity in these countries by the young people is social networking. Over the years, the use of social networks across the globe has increased significantly (Pew Research 2015). Globally, young people in Singapore have been ranked to be the most active users of social media which has been attributed to the high rate of internet penetration (Aziz 2014; Mohd 2014). According to Li and Chung (2006) the popularity of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, has seen an increase in the number of innovative sites that are aimed at attracting young people to use these platforms. In the United Kingdom, the most popular social medial platform is Facebook which has 31 million active users (Statista 2016). Most of the young teenagers across the United Kingdom chose to use social platforms that offer increased privacy such as WeChat, WhatsApp, Viber or the Facebook Messenger. In Both Singapore and the United Kingdom, Instagram is the social media platform that has been able to attract younger audiences more than any other platform because of its unique features of sharing moment photos (Statista 2016). Recently, however, Snapchat is the latest social network that many young people have subscribed to having that it has video sharing features (Statista 2016). Another social media platform that has following among the youth is LinkedIn, which is a professional B2B network as well as Google Plus which has largely kept young people as its audience despite experiencing a decrease in active subscribers (Statista 2016). Apart from these platforms, others that continue to attract young people include Pinterest which mainly has a female young audience (Statista 2016).
Apart from engaging in social networking activities, youths in Singapore and the United Kingdom spend their time on entertainment websites (Statista 2016). Compared to a research done by Kubey, Lavin, and Barrows in (2001), in the recent years there has been an increase in platforms offering entertainment features often targeting the young people. Mainly, young boys are more likely to spend their time on entertainment platforms compared to young girls (Statista 2016). Some of the entertainment activities young people undertake include playing online video games such as FIFA while others spend time accessing music or movie sites. The next section reports on the negative effects of internet addiction.
Negative Effects of Internet Addiction
Internet addiction among the youth has negative affects in different ways; the most common being through cyber-bullying, development of anti-social behaviors, and poor academic performance (Ma, 2011). Spending excessive time on the internet has a critically adverse influence on the daily lives of young people, a condition that has been referred to as the damaging and uncontrollable in use of the internet (Chou and Hsiao 2000, p. 65-80). According to Davis (2001, p. 187), internet addiction symptoms include inability to withdraw from internet use, impulse control that is diminishing, tolerance, and having thoughts that are obsessive about the internet.
The prevalence of internet addiction among the young people has come with increased cyber bullying (Ma 2011). According to Chou and Hsiao (2000, p. 65-80), cyber bullying using the internet to bully others like distribution of statements that are libelous against an individual, harassing, humiliating, or embarrassing peers. Approximately 40 percent of the young teenagers accessing the internet have indicated that they have experienced direct incidents of bullying (Ma 2011). According to the Ofcom (2016, -p. 191), one of the online risks that parents are concerned that their children might face is bullying. This negative behavior is alarming because individuals who are affected by it suffer from depression. Additionally, apart from depression they are discriminated which increases the risk of emotional diseases especially among the youths. Individuals subjected to bullying acts lose their confidence and at times they develop thoughts of ending their lives.
Ma, Shek, Cheung, and Lee (1996), report that the major delinquent and antisocial behaviors among teenagers include general deviance like the use of alcohol, theft, exam cheating; defying parents, abuse of drugs, undesirable sexual activities, as well as hostile or aggressive acts. The evolvement of the internet has seen a rise in antisocial behaviors among the adolescents (Ma 2011). There are numerous antisocial acts that young people addicted to the internet get busy with including illegal downloads. Across the UK and Singapore, youths participating in illegal activity of downloading music, films, and videos without permission. According to Ma (2011) a survey that included 599 young people in the age bracket of 10 to 24 on internet activities revealed that they downloaded music or film without the consent of the copyright owners. A second form of antisocial behavior because of internet addiction is aggressive or pornographic information (Ma 2011). According to Ma (2011), participants in the same study revealed that they had willingly obtained obscene, pornographic or aggressive materials using the internet. The act of cheating is another antisocial internet behavior that has been on the rise in the past decade. Many teenagers find it easy to deceive over the internet often because they are anonymous and have a choice to hide their identities (Ma 2011). Online gambling is another antisocial deed which has been escalated by internet addiction (Blaszczynski 2006, p. 7-9). Many teenagers are finding their way into gambling through the various platforms such as football betting sites and online casinos. Online betting also includes activities such as online bingo, online poker, and online lotteries (Blaszczynski 2006, p. 7-9). Apart from these, some young internet addicted individuals might use the internet to take up illegal activities such as compensated dated or selling fake products (Ma 2011).
According to Akhter (2013, p. 1793), there is a direct relationship between internet addiction and poor academic performance as demonstrated by Suhail and Bargees (2006) who concluded that some of the problems include a decline in the study habits, not attending classes, and drop in grades among other challenges (Usman, Alavi, and Shafeq 2014, p. 845-851). Accessing internet using tablets and Smartphone has become an integral part of the life of every student and in education places where there is less control only a small fraction use them for academic activities (Choi, et al. 2015, p. 308-14). According to Li et al. (2014, p. 111-116) research shows that the educational success of a student can be largely determined by the proportion of time that they spend on internet for non-educational activity versus the purpose of education. A study by Khan, Alvi, Shabbir, and Rajput (2016, p. 48) discovered that excessive use of the internet leads to internet addiction which would eventually affect academic performance. On the other hand, a study by Akhter (2013) among university undergraduates with 359 participants concluded that internet addiction had a significant negative correlation with performance in academics.
Moreover, this study suggested that there was a gender difference where male student’s recorded worse performance compared to the female students because the former had higher rates of internet addiction (Akhter 2013, p. 1795). Finally, a research by Kakkar, Ahuja and Dahiya (2015, p. 1159) discovered that there is enough evidence to show internet addiction has a profound effect on the academic performance as well as the mental health of adolescents. The results of this study shown that students who were in severe groups of internet addiction had detrimental effects both in the mental health and academic performance compared to students who were moderately addicted to the internet (Kakkar, Ahuja, and Dahiya 2015, p. 1159).
How Youths Are Negatively Affected By Addiction to Internet
According to Scherer (1997), youths in college are exposed to healthy and unhealthy internet use. Thus, they are negatively affected by internet obsession both in the short-term and in the long-term. The physical consequences among the youth addicted to the internet are minimal while at the same time notable. Young people who are obsessed to the internet spend between forty to eighty hours weekly with single sessions that can last up to twenty hours (Young 1999). This amounts to the disruption of their sleeping patterns because of being online until late hours. Often the enthusiastic individuals stay up than normal hours and may report to have slept three or four in the morning despite having to wake up early to go to school. It is reported that in cases that are extreme some youths use caffeine pills to facilitate longer periods on the internet (Choi 2007). When an individual gets deprived of sleep, he or she becomes excessively fatigued which leads to the academic impairment. Moreover, this can reduce their immune system making the affected person vulnerable to diseases. Apart from this, youths obsessed about the internet may suffer the long-term eyestrain or back strain because of the prolonged access to the internet using a computer or tablet (Young 1998, p. 237-244).
This means that when the use of internet becomes pathological and excessive, there could be development of ill-health effects on the youthful users such as impediment to achieving psychosocial development tasks, less peer and family interactions and impaired psychological wellbeing (Mitchell 2000, p. 355-632). According to Young (1996), there are serious relationship problems among more than 53 percent of the internet addicts who participated in a survey. The parent to child relationship often deteriorates as the addiction becomes severe and close friends are quick to identify these disruptions in lifestyle (Ong and Tan 2014, p. 378-392). Often patients, in this case the affected youths, spend little time with people in their lives as they replace them with more time in front of computers or tablets. Moreover, youths attached to the internet are negatively affected in terms of increasing excuses and lies to cover up for failure to do certain required tasks (Young 1999). Their time is mainly consumed by the activities they are involved with on the internet and find themselves unable to meet obligations expected from them. They grow to be pathetic liars at a young age.
Positive Effects of the Internet on Youth
While the internet negatively impacts users, it has its positive side. Shuhail and Bargees (2006, p. 297-307) reported that students who use the internet gain some benefits concluding that internet usage can positively impact education through increasing communication with professors and classmates. Additionally, the appropriate use of internet can help in increasing the student’s access to educational and library databases as well as improving study habits and study hours (Shuhail and Bargees 2006, p. 297-307). Alam, Hashim, Ahmad, and Omar (2014, p. 629), report that internet usage by the young people has some positive aspects such as resourcefulness, convenience, and fun. Additionally, Roy (2009, p. 878-886), conducted a study which shown that the users of the internet experienced a wide range of exposure, self-development, leisure, and relaxation, as well as high global exchange of views and information. Alam, Hashim, Ahmad, and Omar (2014), notes that one of the positive effects that young internet users benefit from is expanded knowledge base. Young internet users are able to access information from a wide range of global sources that helps them in improving their study and vocabulary habits while at the same time developing the feeling that they are part of a global society (Alam, Hashim, Ahmad, and Omar 2014).
Additionally, internet comes with a positive feature in ease of communication. Schools whose curriculum is built on using controlled internet usage have been able to provide their students with opportunities to easily communicate with their peers and professors (Alam, et al. 2014). Students can be able to ask questions to their peers or professors and get immediate answers. Young people using the internet benefit from easily communicating with friends and family members compared to any time in history. The convenience that comes with using the internet positively affects the young internet users (Alam, et al. 2014). Another benefit which young internet uses reap from using the internet is building strong relations (Alam, et al. 2014). Internet addiction can make young people improve their relationships with their friends and family because of the ease in communication. Young internet users can create new friendships with people from any part of the globe through discussion forums on blogs or chat rooms (Alam, et al. 2014). Young people are easily finding groups that share their interests ranging from travel, literature, religion, cooking, sports, and health matters among others (Alam, et al. 2014). Young users of internet can collaborate and share ideas which can be useful in personal development. Youths addicted or using the internet have the potential of developing a network of individuals that share a common believe or course in life (Alam, et al. 2014).
According to Kaye and Johnson (2004), the reason why the youth using the internet become active and surf the internet is because of the wide variety of resources to be occupied with. Moreover, Papacharissi and Rubin (2000, p. 175–196) identified five motivations that push for the use of internet among young people and they included passing time, interpersonal utility, entertainment, convenience, and information seeking. In addition, a study by Alam, Hashim, Ahmad, and Omar (2014) revealed that internet skills can be used in improving personal development at school or at work.
This research has been subdivided into a number of sections. First is the introductory part of the research which detailed the topic that has been covered in this case the negative effects of internet addiction on the youth. Moreover, this part listed the objectives of the research, the statement of the problem, and the importance of performing the research. The introduction part of the research also explained the dependent and independent variables of the research. Finally, this section provided a summary of the chapters that would be covered by the research. The second chapter of this research paper is the literature review. The researcher used this section to review literature that was relevant to the topic under study. Furthermore, the literature section of the research was used in reviewing relevant theories that guided the research topic.
The third chapter of this research is the methodology section which explains how the researcher conducted the study. Specifically, the sections expound on the use of document study, selection of documents, data collection, and ethical considerations. The methodology section is a critical part to this research as it guided on the findings that the researcher reported. The chapter is the findings which reports on the facts of the research objectives. For instance, the chapter explains what young people do on the internet, what are the specific negative effects on internet addiction on the youth and the positives that come with using the internet. This chapter on discussion relates the findings section to the statement of the problem and the literature review and draws valid conclusions that are defensible.
Based on the research objectives of this research, the findings can be discussed using each of them. First, the findings shows that young people using the internet in Singapore, United Kingdom and across the globe are mainly involved in social networking platforms and entertainment platforms. First, the activities on social media do not surprise because globally, the use and development of social media platforms has increased even for the older generation. These sites are mainly developed to target the young people. Thus, it makes sense to have many young people spend their time on these platforms which are easy to communicate with peers and make new friends. The increase in Smartphone has made it easy to build social media apps that are compatible with mobile phones which have resulted in a high percentage usage by young people. Secondly, entertainment is among the most common activities that teenagers on the internet engage in. The increase in internet access has come with many platforms that offer entertainment and appeal to the young people. Youngsters can now access music and video platforms on the internet which makes entertainment a popular activity during this era. For instance, there are many video games that can be approached on the internet sometimes freely or for payment of few dollars. Youths are willing to part with a substantial amount of money in exchange with entertainment activities. The bottom line from this finding is that the increase in Smartphone has raised the youth engagement on these activities. Moreover, when the time that teenagers spend on these and other activities on the internet such as reading news is combined, it equates to long hours which is one of the attributes of addiction.
The findings of the study depicted that the major negative effects of internet addiction include cyber-bullying, anti-social behaviors, and academic performance. These findings can be explained by the social learning theory, moral development theory, and theory of social influence. Often cyber-bullying is associated with social media platforms. The main reason why youth are targeted by cyber bullies is because they are often defenseless and they are more likely to keep quiet over it. Individuals who have been bullied on the internet are mainly the ones who are addicted to social media platforms. The availability of chat rooms, comment box and replies provides an opportunity for young people to be subjected to bullying. Bullying can have a devastating effect on the life of a young person. It affects the social esteem of an individual and in extreme cases some youths who have been subjected to cyber bullying have committed suicide. According to Kohlberg, (1976) young people who lack appropriate moral behavior are likely to be subjects for others to bullying.
Secondly, the development of anti-social behaviors is a feature that can develop when one becomes anti-social as they exclude themselves from the rest of the world. Internet addiction among many youths is often as a result of peer pressure where an individual might be in a certain group which motivates themselves to continue be absorbed in certain activities. For instance, a social media platform like Facebook has features which allow formation of private groups which if not controlled can have adverse effects on the behaviors of young people. According to Gates, and Podder (2015) in the recent decade, research has shown that a huge number of youths are being recruited and radicalized by terror groups through social media accounts. Terror groups often target individuals who seem depressed by certain issues in the society and using new media offered by the internet they entice them by promising to make their lives happy and instantly rich (Weimann 2014). According to Weimann (2015), youths who fall into this trap end up tackle in terror activities without their knowledge. These anti-social behaviors are often due to peer pressure as explained by the social influence theory. Internet addicts engage in anti-social behavior such as using drug abuse because of peer influence as well as copying from others as explained by the Bandura’s social learning theory (Bandura 1963).
Finally, there is no doubt that increased use of the internet by young people leads to poor academic results. This is because internet addicts spend little or no time reading and they rarely attend lectures. Many show up only to do the exams and in extreme cases many drop out of school without the prior knowledge of their parents. Internet addicts often spend more time on their computers, smartphone, or tablets either when in school or at home. Education is not in their priority list. This has been supported by a survey by Barber (1997) which concluded that 86 percent of the librarians, teachers and computer coordinators believed that children who used the internet either when controlled, moderate or excessively does not get to improve their academic performance. According to these respondents, schools using the internet expose young people to information which is often unrelated to the school curriculum (Young 1999). Moreover, Young (1996) revealed that 80 percent of students who used the internet reported to have experienced a decline in the study habits, missed classes, significant drop in grades and placement in probation because of excessively using the internet. Young people surf for irrelevant websites, play interactive games and using the chartroom gossip over a couple of issues rather than spending this time on productive activities such as revising over a semester’s learning’s (Young 1999).
The study findings also indicated how youth are negatively affected by internet addiction the major consequences being loss of sleeping hours, vulnerable to certain illness such as back pains and less interaction with family members and friends. Youths addicted to the internet lack enough sleeping hours because of night logins which means they have less time to spend with family and friends. They reduce their interactions to a few people mainly peers who they undertake the same activities on the internet. Teenagers addicted to the internet become dependents who are not willing to spend their energy on any other activity. Their schedule is often fulfilling certain internet matters which mean they are at constant arguments either at school or home because they forget to perform certain activities allocated to them. Moreover, internet addiction is a health disorder which should be treated adequately (Sato 2006, p. 282; Morahan-Martin 2005). Internet obsession can be treated using family therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy which means that this is a disorder with direct short-term and long-term negative effects to the youths affected (Young 2007, p. 671-679; Pujol, Alexandre, Sokolovsky, and Karam, Spritzer 2009; 185-186; Orzack, and Orzack 1999, 465-473).
Finally, while internet addiction has negative effects as well as a direct negative impact on the youths who have been addicted, it has some positive aspects. One of the advantages of using the internet according to the findings is the ease of communication. People tend to easily communicate regardless of the distance. Using chat rooms or emails helps in communicating fast a phenomenon that would not be possible if there was no internet. Moreover, internet has increased the ease to access information either on the online libraries, online newspapers, or online Television. This means that the world is more informed and today’s young people are more knowledgeable. Additionally, young people who use the internet wisely improve their academic performance. Apart from this, internet can help promote relationships between peers or family members.
The discussion of the findings indicates that internet addiction has negative effects on the young people. First, some of the common activities that youth engage in when surfing include social media activities as well as entertainment websites. This has been largely attributed to the increase in Smartphone across the globe as well as the escalated penetration of internet broad width. Many youths in Singapore and the UK can now access the internet without incurring high costs. Secondly, the continued engagement of these activities leads to addiction. Youths who are addicted spend many hours on the internet and only sleep a few hours. This comes with negative effects majorly being subjected to cyber bullying, development of anti-social behaviors, and poor academic performance. It has been reported that youths who spend most of the time on the internet have experienced cyber bullying a consequence which can have devastating effect including suicide. Youths addicted to the internet are more prone to developing anti-social behaviors such as constant anger, disrespect to their parents, and abuse of drugs. These anti-social behaviors manifest themselves in cases of extreme internet addiction disorder. Preventive measures should be taken to alleviate this problem as soon as these behaviors are identified. Apart from this, youths addicted to the internet suffer from poor performance in their academics. They are less committed to schoolwork and often only appear during exams despite lack of knowledge on what has been taught. While many might be physically present in the school, their minds are often engaged in their favorite online activity.
The discussion of the findings concludes that youths addicted to the internet suffer from negative consequences such as illness, loss of sleep, and breakdown of interactions with their family members and peers. This is often influenced by the negative effects of internet addiction such as development of anti-social behaviors which forces them to exclude from the societal norm. Finally, the discussion depicts that when the internet is used in the right way it can be beneficial to the users. Users can forge new friendships and for students who use internet in a controlled way can benefit from improved academic performance.
While this study has been completed and depicted the hypothesis to be true, it has some limitations. One of the study limitations is the scope. The study findings have been confined only on youths aged between 15 to 18 who reside in Singapore and the United Kingdom. Secondly, the study was limited by the three objectives set. The researcher conducted the study as guided by the scope and the objectives only. Thirdly, the study has some methodological limitations. For instance, only one part of the bigger problem was examined in that while internet addiction has negative effects, there are drivers or reasons that influence this disorder among the young people. Additionally, the study used a document study approach rather than a primary method.
Several recommendations are applicable to the problem that has been investigated, the negative effects of internet addiction. First, youths are the future of any country and the governments of Singapore and United Kingdom should develop strategies to prevent internet addiction. Prevention is key to reducing morbidity and incidences of addiction problems such as cyber bullying, poor academic performance and anti-social behaviors. Public awareness on the effects of internet addiction is recommended to ensure parents are educated on how to supervise teenagers to avoid excessive internet use. Secondly, it is recommended that schools using internet as part of the curriculum should control its use. They should regulate or block access to social media platforms or entertainment websites while in the premises of the school. Thirdly, it is recommended that parents should put control measures on what their children get to access on the internet when at home and ensure they spend less time engaging in these activities. Close monitoring by the parents and the school can help in reducing the problem of internet addiction.
Apart from this, it is recommended that in the future, a study can be conducted to find out the factors driving young people to excessively use the internet in addition to strategies that can be used to prevent or mitigate the excessive use of the internet.
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