Young internet addicts are lonely and do not like school (18th August 2015)

Fifteen-year-olds who use the internet over six hours a day are the ones who like school the least and are most often late. This was discovered when examining the PISA 2012 student survey. The survey included questions about students’ computer use, school satisfaction and commitment to school work.

The most active internet users feel like outsiders at school

The answers of students from Finland and other OECD countries revealed that the most active internet users like school the least and are the least committed to school. The students who spent over six hours a day on the internet more often stated that they feel lonely at school than the students with less internet time. In Finland, for example, 20% of active internet users felt lonely whereas the percentage among other user groups was 6–10%. In the OECD countries, the equivalent figures were 14% and 7–10%. For instance, in Sweden the situation was roughly the same than in the OECD countries on average. The most active internet users also felt themselves uncomfortable at school and even as if they were not supposed to be there.

– Those adolescents who use the internet several hours a day might be socially excluded from groups that are physically close to them. However, the data do not reveal whether the abundant use of the internet is the reason for or something to substitute the lack of friends. Of course adolescents may have friends on discussion forums but it is important that they also connect with fellow students so that they wouldn’t feel themselves outsiders, says researcher Kaisa Leino from the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.

On the internet at night: late for school in the morning

Excessive use of computers also seems to correlate with being late for school and skipping classes. Thirty-six percent of those who used computer the least said they had been late for school within the last two weeks, whereas among the active users the figure was as much as 49 percent.

– The internet may be addictive and browsing may continue to late at night. This has a direct connection to the energy level and being late for school in the morning, Leino states.

Leino believes that the use of ICT in teaching may increase the school satisfaction of most active internet users. She also gives a piece of advice:

– Teaching methods should enable that the adolescents with good internet skills could instruct other students and thus have feelings of success and possibility to connect with their classmates.

The results were published in the PISA 2012 Finnish main report (in Finnish): Millä eväillä osaaminen uuteen nousuun? PISA 2012 -tutkimustuloksia. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2015:6. http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Julkaisut/2015/PISA.html

Further information:

Researcher Kaisa Leino, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä
kaisa.j.leino@jyu.fi, tel. +358 40 805 4260