We all live in a digital era where it is inevitable to spend a day without electronic devices. There is a tendency among school teenagers use internet a lot both at school and home. This study is focused on how internet use influences teenagers’ academic achievement in Kazakhstan. School surveys were held to explore the issue at the site of Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Pavlodar city, Kazakhstan.
Key words: NIS, Internet use, academic achievement, teenagers, Kazakhstan
Statement of the problem
Modern teenagers of the 21-st century know everything about high technology that surrenders us, it is much easier for them to surf the internet to get information they want to know. Study in other countries, like Thailand, China, South Korea and others show that majority of young learners overuse internet and it leads to internet abuse and has an effect on teenagers’ academic achievement [1, 12 p; 2, 25 p; 3, 37 p]. Researchers have not investigated yet to what extent internet influences Kazakhstani schoolchildren. That is why there is a need of carrying out a research in this field to analyze the current situation in Kazakhstan and define whether the internet is a hindrance to teenagers’ academic achievement. By academic achievement or(academic) performanceis meant the outcome ofeducation — the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals. For the purpose of this research study, academic achievement refers to GPA (Grade Point Average) as it is essential to explore whether there is a correlation between internet use and teenagers’ average school GPA.
Being similar to their international peers, Kazakhstani teenagers like socializing and learning via internet and spend a lot of time using tablets or laptops. The recent study shows that there are 49.5 internet users for every 100 citizens; compared to only 15 users per 100 in 2008 [4, 31 p] and the increasing tendency of users can be observed among young learners. According to the data provided by Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 60 % of schoolchildren use internet and about 50 % of them stay online from 16 to 26 hours a week [5, 19 p]. There is a growing concern among parents, teachers and psychologists that our teenagers are influenced negatively by internet usage. It is vital to find out whether internet has an impact on Kazakhstani schoolchildren’s academic achievement and if the impact has a negative or positive trait.
The findings of the research will be beneficial for teenagers, their parents, psychologists and school staff.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to explore internet influence on teenagers’ academic achievement for 8–9 graders at the site of Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS) in Pavlodar. To investigate the research, school survey and questionnaires will first be organized and then analyzed to define to what extent internet use effects teenagers’ academic achievement. To analyze whether there is a connection between internet use and academic achievement, access to children’s GPAs is required with the permission from the school administration. To address the research questions, the data from the surveys and teenagers’ average GPAs will be compared to explore whether internet use has a positive or a negative influence on the academic achievement.
This research study is guided by the following overarching question:
- To what extent internet use may affect schoolchildren’s academic achievement?
The sub-questions of the research are defined as following:
- Does internet use have a positive or negative impact on teenagers’ academic achievement?
- How much time do teenagers spend online on average?
- What are the main reasons for using internet by teenagers?
Hypothesis of the research
The research hypothesis is that there is a negative correlation between internet use and teenager’s academic achievement.
Many researchers have explored the issue of the influence of internet on teenagers’ academic achievement. Such research was carried out in many countries around the world, among which are the USA, the UK, Canada and some Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Turkey. Different methods were chosen to address the issue and research findings reflect to what extent internet use might be a hindrance to teenagers’ academic performance in various parts of the world. It should be mentioned that researchers from different countries came to various conclusions and their findings to some extent contradict each other. While some researchers proved that internet use distracted teenagers from study at school [1, 22 p; 6, 28 p] others believed that internet use led to teenagers’ improvement in academic performance [2, 14 p; 8, 11 p].
Some researchers explored the dependence of internet use on children’s academic performance. The findings indicate that “internet use predicts academic performance. Greater internet use was associated with higher subsequent GPAs, and with better performance on standardized tests of reading skills (but not mathematics skills) administered after the internet use period” [2, 17 p]. It can be noticed that internet use results in a better academic achievement.
The issue of internet addiction among adolescents was discussed in many papers [3, 21 p; 6, 14 p; 7, 29 p]. Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder that does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling [10, 239 p]. There is an increasing anxiety about risks that internet may bring as youngsters spend a lot of time online. Such pastime negatively influences relationship with family and friends, causes academic problems, like low school presence, low grades and bad performance. Moreover, it leads to negative behavior, such as aggression isolation and depression [3, 22 p]. The solution can be found in parental control and guidance while teenagers use the internet [5, 16 p; 9, 12 p]. Since many parents feel concerned about an increasing involvement of their children in online activities, controlled parental guidance is sufficient and vital at this stage.
Some researchers admit that internet has also a positive impact on teenagers. Surveys prove that adolescents are taking advantage of a wide choice of online opportunities [8, 19 p]. The researchers found out that there is a correlation between teenagers’ family background and internet usage. They concluded that older and middle-class teenagers are using the internet to their advantage than are younger children from a working-class background [5, 22 p].
The internet use positively influences child and adolescent development [1, 24 p]. There is an evidence that computer games improve cognitive skills, such as spatial skills and iconic representation. Subrahmanyam et al. after some experiments found out that “computer game playing will only enhance a particular spatial skill if the game utilizes this skill”. However, the researchers mentioned that there is no actual proof on a connection between video game playing, attentional skills and progress in academic performance [1, 24 p].
Analyzing all the research dedicated to the influence of internet on academic achievement it can be concluded that the majority of teenagers in different countries overuse the internet and this negatively impacts their social life as well as academic performance. Many researchers are concerned about the increasing rate of internet usage by children aged 3 to 17 [1, 26 p; 6, 13 p; 7, 30 p].
Many researchers around the globe explored the issue of internet influence on academic achievement and their findings reflect that there is a link between internet use and academic performance. The majority of them tend to think that internet use has a positive influence on teenagers’ academic achievement. However, few researchers have investigated internet influence on Kazakhstani teenagers’ academic achievement. This proposal fills a gap in the international internet influence literature by conducting an exploration of the internet influence on Kazakh schoolchildren.
There is an urgent need for carrying out such a research as this phenomenon of internet use and its influence on teenagers’ academic achievement has not been investigated yet in Kazakhstani schools. It is not scientifically proven that internet use has a positive or negative influence on teenagers’ academic achievement. What is obvious is that many adolescents in Kazakhstan enjoy surfing the internet and to explore the research it should be observed how much time Kazakhstani teenagers spend online on average. It is also of great interest to define the main reasons of using internet by teenagers and whether internet use has a positive or a negative impact on teenagers’ academic achievement. To answer all the research questions, teenagers will participate in school surveys with the permission of school administration and parents of children. The close-ended questionnaires will provide with the data for further analysis and interpretation. Finally, all the data findings will be embedded and concluded. The collected data will contribute to further research on the issue of internet use and its impact on academic achievement. School surveys with close-ended questions were designed for students in 8–9 grades at NIS Pavlodar. The total number of participants was 100 students aged 13–14.
Findings of the research
To address the research questions I interviewed 100 students and after carrying out the research I came to some conclusions:
- On average, teenagers at NIS Pavlodar spent 8–10 hours online. The number of respondents who spend online more than 10 hours and 3–4 hours per day is equal (see Graph 1).
- The analysis of students’ interview answers shows that the main reasons for internet use are surfing for personal interests; 45 teenagers out of 100 write that they surf internet to learn more about their favorite celebrities or sport players or simply to watch some. A quarter of respondents admit they use internet to download their favorite music or movies. 15 teenagers respond they enjoy playing online computer games in their free time. 10 interviewers say that they use internet a lot to complete school tasks and home work. It is rare for teenagers to make friends online as only 5 respondents use internet with this purpose (see Graph 2).
- There is a positive correlation between teenager’s academic achievement and internet use. Most of the respondents, namely 65 students, say that internet use helps them to succeed in their learning. Teenagers surf the net to get information for projects and school presentations as well as to learn and revise for different school subjects. 30 participants claim that internet does not contribute to teenager’s academic achievement; instead, these students prefer to revise for lessons in the library. 15 teenagers think that internet use worsens their academic performance disturbing them from study and school preparation (see Graph 3).
Our research aimed to identify whether there is a correlation between internet use and average GPA of NIS students. After interviewing the students, we analyzed GPA of the participants and concluded that there is no correlation between how often teenagers use the internet and how well they study at school. It was stated clearly from the comparative analysis that those students who have a high GPA at school use internet in a different frequency: some of them spend more than 8 hours whereas others spend less than 3 hours online.
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