A Study of the Relationship Between Loneliness and Internet Use Among University Students
Problem: Research investigating the relationship between loneliness and various dimensions of Internet use is mixed. While some studies support the connection, other studies refute the link. More analysis in this area is needed to help clinicians, parents, college students, school counselors, and educators better understand the effects of the Internet on college-age students. This study attempts to expand understanding of the conflictual relationship that exists between loneliness and the dynamics of Internet use in undergraduate students.
Method: Four-hundred sixty-six randomly selected Andrews University undergraduate students who lived in residence halls, university apartments, and the community completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) and the Internet Use Survey, a questionnaire developed by the researcher. Demographic information was also collected. Analysis of variance, multiple regression, and correlational analyses were performed to test the hypotheses of the study.
Results: Overall, results indicate the Internet does not seem to be influencing the loneliness levels in undergraduate students. Specifically, the amount of Internet use, type of Internet use, history of Internet use, reasons for using the Internet, preference for the Internet as a mode of communication, preference for type of Internet activity, and the changes in face-to-face interaction, talking on the phone, and overall communicating with family, friends, and others (besides family and friends) since using the Internet have a minimal effect on the loneliness experienced in undergraduate students.
Conclusions: In this study, Internet use does not contribute to loneliness among undergraduates using the Internet less than 40 hours per week. For most, use of the Internet is both highly enjoyable and useful. Loneliness is more prevalent in the few who use the Internet more than 40 hours per week and in those who prefer the Internet over face-to-face interaction or talking on the phone. Results showed an inverse relationship between loneliness and the number of years a student had used the Internet. Newer users are at a slightly higher risk of experiencing loneliness than those with a longer history of Internet use. Previous research has questioned the importance of Internet use as a contributing factor in loneliness. In this study, the empirical findings regarding the overall relationships of loneliness and Internet use were weak.
Katherine L Dittmann
Full text available online through ProQuest Digital Dissertations. Completed through Andrews University.
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