Effects of Internet Exposure on the Studying Habits of Undergraduates

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Published on International Journal of Teaching & Education
Publication Date: April, 2020

Walter Duru
Department of Mass Communication, Madonna University, Okija Campus

Journal Full Text PDF: Effects of Internet Exposure on the Studying Habits of Undergraduates (A Study of Madonna University, Nigeria).

Since the advent of social networking media (internet), the use of the Internet has been of good and bad influence to the society at large. This study examines the effects of exposure to the internet on the studying habits of undergraduates, with focus on Madonna University, Nigeria. The study used the Survey research method, with the Questionnaire as instrument for gathering information. 120, out of the 200 respondents sampled for the study are females, while 80 are males. They all returned the questionnaire issued to them. Findings revealed that a large population of students makes use of internet for one reason or the other, mostly, for academic purposes and chatting and meeting friends. The study made recommendations amongst others, that such studies should also be conducted for students in primary and secondary schools because the world is fast becoming a global village and soon, exposure to the internet will be at a very tender age.

Keywords: Internet, Social Networking, Global Village and Development.

1. Introduction
The beginning of the internet can be traced to the 1950s, when the first message was sent after the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) from Computer Science Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s Laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLAS). The ARPANET led to the development of protocols for internet working.
1n 1982, Internet Protocol Suit (TCP/IP) became standardized and thus began the networks called the Internet. ARPRANET expanded in 1981 when the National Science Foundation (NSF) developed the Computer Science Network (CSNET) and in 1986, when CSNET provided access to Super Computer sites in the United States from education and research organizations.
In late 1980s and early 1990s, commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) emerged and ARPANET was decommissioned. In 1995, the internet was commercialized and NSFNTE decommissioned, removing the last restriction on the use of internet to carry commercial traffic. The first recorded description of social interactions that can be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R Licklider discussing his Cialatic Network Concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programmes from every site. We can say that the idea of social networking/media was gotten from his memo.
This new form of information resources have as their greatest advantage, a virtually unlimited wealth of information resources which is widely readily available and accessible to hundreds of millions of people simultaneously in many parts of the world (Kumar & Kaur 2006).
Fasae and Aladeniyi (2012) were therefore right, when they asserted that for the developing countries like Nigeria to grow and attain its economic and social status; such country must be fully ready in strengthening and empowering its academic institutions, both in science and technological capacity.
Social media refers to the means of interaction among people in which they create, share and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The social media as a form of electronic communication (as websites for social networking and micro blogging) through which users create online communities to show information, ideas, personal messages and other contents.
The social media are websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. One of the most popular social media is the Facebook, with over one billion active users, as at 2012. At the time of inception, Facbook was initially limited to Howard students of which the founder Mark Zuckerberg was a student. Later on, it expanded to other universities in Canada and USA and by September, 2006, everyone from age 13 and above had a valid email address.

Badoo is a dating focused social website founded in 2006, although managed by Soho in London Headquarters. It is owned by a London-based company in Cyprus, owned by a Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev. As of November 2011, Badoo was boasting of 130 million users.

Twitter is an online social networking and micro blogging service that enables its users to send and read text based messages of up to 140 characters down as tweets. Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and was launched by July of the same year. As of 2012, it had 500 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day. Registered users can post tweets through website interface, SMS, or a range of applications for mobile devices.

Since the development of the internet, there have been improvements in its use, hence more development. The inclusion of web 2.0, which is the platform for social networking sites growing faster than the number of schools in any country. Just as there is a high increase in the number of social media, the users are also seeing a higher increase in patronage as millions of users are signing up every day.
Since the development of social networking/media (internet), both the good and the bad have been introduced into the society. The internet can be used as a source of development of students’ knowledge, entertainment, amusement, etc.
According to Oghenetega and Igere (2014), over the years, the internet has been a very important instrument for facilitating academic activities in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The internet is used by more than 60 percent of the world population; about a half of adults over 23-40 years and used by one-third of children from 13-20 years and students fall within the age grades of both as students of tertiary institutions.
Most often, the internet is used for playing games, sending and receiving (electronic messages) from friends and family members as well as business associates, sharing information, meeting new and reconnecting with old acquaintances, advertising, public relations, pornography etc. With so many things, the internet has to offer, people have started misusing it, especially students who make up the highest number of internet users. Using it for pornography, game playing, sex chatting, etc. With the many vices being incorporated into social media and addiction by consumers, students have a hard time concentrating in school activities.
An American Writer, Nicholas Can says that internet use reduces the deep thinking that leads to true creativity. While psychologist, Steven Pinter argues that people have control over what they do and that research and reasoning never came naturally to people. He says that experience does not revamp the basic information processing capacities of the brain, adding that the internet is actually making people smarter.
A study by Ben and Dahamani (2008) on the relationship between the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and students’ performance in higher education revealed that, so far, economic research has failed to provide a clear consensus on the effect of ICT investments on student’s achievement.
Social media employs mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, create, discuss and modify user-generated content. The social media have become very powerful sources of information, as well as news updates through platforms like Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, etc. Currently, there are social media platforms that cater for almost every intellectual need of individuals.
These days, whatever you are looking for, whether it is fashion, sex, entertainment, games, books etc. can be found on the internet. If not found on the internet, where to buy them will definitely be on the internet.

2. Effects of the Internet/ Social Media
Psychologist, Andre De Castro, cited in Selasa (2013) says that social networks are the true downfall for people who use the internet. In his research paper, he describes how social networks allow people to draw on their mirror image. This is capable of causing a disturbing psychological effect, which can confuse people on their true identities.
In making use of the social media, it is expected that you register your personal information. In Facebook, it requires you to give a real identity, but Myspace does not specific. Even with Facebook’s specification, people still give fake identities because whoever you are dealing with surely knows you based on the information on your profile. With the fake identities, people start acting contrary to their identities, even when they are off the social media, hence confusing reality with make believe.
Such an attitude will have a very negative effect on students. Let us assume a Madonna University Student has a page/profile on Facebook; on his profile, he says he is a Manager in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), hence, when he is on the page and interacting with people online, he acts according to the status he has ascribed to himself, but out of it he is suppose to act like a student, attend lectures, read books, spend sparingly or wisely. According to De Castro (2013), a time will come when the person won’t be able to distinguish between being a student and being a worker. He would transfer his attitude from the social media to his learning environment; that will mean talking to lecturers as equals, acting like a know –it-all, with dire consequences.
De Castro went further to say that social network is time consuming for a common student. It is addictive even more than drugs. The student is constantly checking his phone to see if there is a new message and is constantly anxious. He would lack the patience to wait for lectures to be over so he can continue with whatsoever social sites he was visiting. Hence, disrupting his/her normal school activities. Carr (2010) also asserts that internet use can reduce the deep thinking that leads to true creativity. He went further to say that internet use can lead to lower attention span and make it more difficult to read in the traditional sense (that is read a book at length without mental interruptions). He supports his claim by saying he and his friends have found it difficult to concentrate and read whole books, even though they read a great deal when they were younger and had no access to the internet.
The most important tool for a student is his brains; his brain is what he uses to attend lecturers, take notes, read his books, write exams and even surf the internet.
Once the mental state of a student is unbalanced, his stay in school would be a waste. According to Nicholas Carr, the internet disrupts the mental state of an individual reducing his attention span. It therefore means regular use or misuse of the internet can be destructive to the students’ mental state. Many universities, especially in Nigeria are still using the traditional method of teaching (books) and have not totally gone over to digitalization (computer), hence the amount of time on internet has to be reduced by students in order to avoid lowering attention span (reading of books) of students.
Another issue or side effects of social networking is its influence on productivity. In some schools and work places, Facebook and MySpace are blocked; this is because it distracts students from their lectures for those schools that use the computers. It is a little difficult to actually stop it because these sites can be accessed by mobile phones. Most lecturers before starting their lectures instruct the students to switch of their phones. This helps in preventing such distractions.
The 21st century generation of students, born into increasing technology has a distraction on their hands called the social media. Before home works are done, students check their accounts online. According to June (2011), Pew’s Research Center Study shows that 61% of Americans use the internet and those 61% are below the ages of 30 (students age).

3. Positive Effects
In some schools, the internet has been integrated into students learning environment. This is a network of learning institutions where students have easy access to computers. This could foster positive attitudes towards the use of computers in teaching and learning. In using the internet in students learning and teaching environment, students’ attitude will change in the use of the gadget. They will realise that the internet is not just a tool to be used for pleasure, but a store of knowledge can be found there.
When professors and lecturers use internet to teach, they will indirectly be changing the course most students use the internet for; white they have been using it before to chat on social websites, they will now deviate to using it for research-based activities, assignment, complement study materials, such as books etc.
UCLA professor of Psychiatry, Gary Small studied brain activities in experienced web surfers versus casual web surfers. He used MRI scans on both groups to evaluate brain activity. According to his experiment, the brain activity of experienced internet use is more extensive than that of a novice, especially in areas of prefrontal cortex associated with problem-solving and decision making. This evidence shows that experienced web (internet) users have developed distinctive neural pathways. The study also shows that internet surfing makes use of more brain power, hence boosting brain power.
Hence, for a student whose basic tool is the brain, surfing the net for useful information to complement his studies increased his brain power which will in turn boost his academic performance. The internet offers a variety of useful opinions, as well as facts on almost every subject, both good and the bad. Encouraging students to take advantage of the good, which is the wealth of information and knowledge found on the web is a duty of parents, teachers, peer-groups, churches, friends etc. If the orientation of the student is using the internet more for educational purpose than pornography and the likes, the internet would be of great benefit to the students studying habit.

4. Method
The study used the survey method to ascertain the effects of internet exposure on students studying habit. 120 out of the 200 respondents sampled for the study were females, while 80 were males. They all returned the questionnaire issued to them. This was possible because the researcher used assistants who were instructed to issue directly and collect back.
Seventy (70) of the respondents were aged between 15-20, the remaining one hundred and thirty (130) respondents were aged 21-30, and there was no respondents aged 30 and above. Of the 200 respondents, none was married, as they were all single. All respondents were Christians. All respondents were still in school for their first degree (B.Sc).

Table 1: Do you make use of the Internet?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Always 103 51.5
Sometimes 96 48
Never 1 0.5
Total 200 100
Table 1 above shows that 103 (51.5%) of the respondents replied that they used the internet always; 96 (48%) replied sometimes and I (0.5%) replied never.
Table 2: What do you normally use the Internet for?
Frequency Percentage (%)
A 2 1
B 27 13.5
C 3 1.5
D 0 0
E 6 3
F 45 22.5
G 5 2.5
ABCF 1 0.5
AB 1 0.5
BCDEFG 5 2.5
BCDEF 7 3.5
BCEF 6 3
BE 7 3.5
BF 34 17
BDF 2 1
BEF 13 6.5
BCEG 1 0.5
BEFG 2 1
BFG 3 1.5
BEG 3 1.5
BCF 11 5.5
BDEF 1 0.5
BCDF 1 0.5
BCE 1 0.5
CEF 2 1
DE 2 1
EF 4 2
FG 3 1.5
Total 200 100

Table 2 above shows that the respondents were given different options. Option A, was Pornography B, Chatting and Meeting Friends, C was Watching Movies/Listening to Music, Option , D was Downloading Games, Option E was Downloading Movies/Music, Option F was Academic Research/Assignment and Option G was others. 2 respondents picked option A, 27 respondents picked B, 45 respondents picked F, 5 respondents picked G, the remaining 2 respondents had a mix of the options as following: 2 respondents picked ABCDEF, I respondent picked ABCF, and one respondent picked AB, 5 respondents picked BCDEFG, 7 respondents picked BCDEF, 6 respondents picked BCEF, 7 respondents picked BE, 34 respondents picked BF, 2 respondents picked BDF, 13 respondents picked BEF, 1 respondent for BCEG and 2 for BEFG, 3 respondents for BFG, 2 respondents for BEG, 11 respondents BCF, I respondent picked BDEF, and I respondent for BCDF, and I respondent for BCE. 2 respondents picked CEF, 2 respondents picked DE, 4 respondents picked EF and 3 respondents picked GF. Majority of the respondents had B as their choice as can be seen from the table.

Table 3: How Long do you spend on the Internet for Entertainment purposes?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Less than 5 hours 132 66
More than 5 hours 61 30.5
Never 7 3.5
Total 200 100
Table three above shows that majority of the respondents spend an average of five (5) hours on the internet for entertainment purposes daily.

Table 4: How long do you spend on the Internet for academic purposes daily?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Less than 5 hours 119 59.5
More than 5 hours 76 38
Never 5 2.5
Total 200 100
Table 4 above shows that respondents replied thus: 119 respondents replied less than 5 hours; 76 respondents replied more than 5 hours, while 5 replied never.

Table 5: What usually do you do first immediately you log on to the internet?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Check for friends 88 44
Check for academic work 52 26
Others 60 30
Total 200 100
Table 5 above shows that 88 respondents replied check for friends; 52 respondents replied check for academic work and 60 replied others.

Table 6: Does the Internet improve your studying habit?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Yes 163 82.5
No 4 2
Maybe 33 16.5
Total 200 100
Table 6 above shows that the respondents replied thus: 163 respondents replied Yes; 4 respondents replied No and 33 respondents replied May be.

Table 7: Do you agree that use of Internet for Pornography have a negative effect on Students Studying Habit
Frequency Percentage (%)
Strongly Agree 61 30.5
Agree 69 34.5
Disagree 70 35
Total 200 100
Table 7 above shows that 61 (30.5%) respondents replied strongly agree; 69 (34.5) respondents replied agree and 70 (35) respondents Disagree.

Table 8: Do you agree that the use of the Internet is affecting students positively?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Strongly Agree 90 45.5
Agree 92 46
Disagree 18 9
Total 200 100
Table 8 above shows that 90 (45.5%) of the respondents replied strongly Agree; 92 (46%) of the respondents Agree and 18 (9%) of the respondents Disagree.

Table 9: Do you agree that the internet improves competence among students
Frequency Percentage (%)
Strongle Agree 80 40%
Agree 100 50%
Disagree 20 10
Total 200 100
Table 9 above shows that 80(40%) of the respondents replied Strongly Agree; 100 (50%) of the respondents replied Agree and 20 (10%) of the respondents Disagree.

Table 10: Do you agree that Using the Internet for Academic Purposes will Improve Students’ studying habit
Frequency Percentage (%)
Strongly Agree 127 63.5
Agree 65 32.5
Disagree 8 4
Total 200 100
Table 10 above shows that 127 (63.5%) of the respondents replied strongly Agree; 65 (32.5) of the respondents replied Agree and 8 (4) of the respondents disagreed.

Table 11: Do you agree that students are taking advantage of the positive effects of the internet in improving their knowledge?
Frequency Percentage (%)
Strongly Agree 90 45
Agree 92 46
Disagree 18 9
Total 200 100
Table 11 above shows that 90 (45%) of the respondents replied strongly agree; 92 (46%) of the respondents replied agree and 18 (9%) of the respondents disagreed.

5. Conclusion
Students are taking advantage of the multiplicity of the functions and importance of the internet. Some of these functions are negative; some are positive and students make choices on what part they want to be exposed to.
Ultimately, the internet can be a source of negativity, as well as positivity, just like the mass media theory of uses and gratification, where people choose what they want. If the students decide to choose the internet positive aspect, it will improve their studying habits.

6. Recommendation
Having seen that the internet can have both good and bad effects on young people, the study recommends as follows:
a. Parents, guardians, institutions, peer groups and all other agents of socialization are strongly advised to guide their wards and members on proper use of the internet.
b. Parents must avoid the temptation of allowing their children at the mercy of peers on the use of the internet.
c. Schools must include internet orientation as part of the Counseling topics by relevant departments of the institution.

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