The impact of pathological levels of Internet-related anxiety on Internet usage
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice / Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change
This article compares the use of the Internet during the first year of university education of students who have pathological levels of Internet anxiety with those who do not. Two hundred and sixteen first year psychology students (females 184, males 32) were surveyed for their levels of Internet-related anxiety, from which 12 (5.6%) were identified as having pathological levels (termed "technophobic"). At the beginning of the year, there were no differences in Internet usage between the two groups. However, at the end of the academic year, the non-technophobic group had increased their Internet usage, while the technophobic group had decreased their Internet usage. For the technophobic group, changes in Internet-related anxiety over the academic year correlated with changes in Internet usage. The technophobic group perceived a greater need for informal (home-based) support and formal (university-based) support than the non-technophobic group, though largely did not receive support. For the non-technophobic group, informal support was related to increased Internet usage. The decrease in usage in the technophobic group was particularly marked in those who did not receive support. Support did not impact upon changes in Internet-related anxiety. As study at university requires an increase in the use of Information Communication Technology, identification of Internet-related anxieties is crucial. Left unaddressed, this study suggests that a student experiencing pathological levels of Internet-related anxiety could become increasingly disadvantaged through their academic studies when Internet-based resources are required for study. These findings are discussed in terms of supporting technophobic students at university.