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The Use of the Internet among Youth Essay

In their research article, Chan and Fang (2007) present the results of their analysis of the Internet use among Hong Kong youth. Given the rapid spreading of Internet technologies, it is natural that the Internet as a new kind of mass media produces irreversible impacts on youth’s social perceptions. Researchers used a set of surveys and questionnaires to analyze the ways in which youth preferred to use Internet, as well as the needs which young people sought to satisfy with the help of the Internet.

A briefing session with interviewers was aimed at explaining the major objectives and study procedures. The results of the discussed research suggest that under the impact of the Internet use radio is no longer used at all. Also, “results indicate that the internet has emerged to become the most important media among young people in Hong Kong. Respondents reported that the time spent on surfing the internet exceeded the time spent on watching television and listening to radio” (Chan & Fang, 2007).

The majority of respondents used internet instead of newspapers, magazines, and television; with the growing number of young internet users, the Internet competes with traditional leisure and entertainment. Most respondents used search engines to locate information, and for young people, the Internet was the major source of information on sensitive subjects.

The Use of the Internet among Youth

Chan, K. & Fang, W. (2007). Use of the Internet and traditional media among young people. Young Consumers, 8 (4): 244-256.

In their research article, Chan and Fang (2007) present the results of their analysis of the Internet use among Hong Kong youth. Given the rapid spreading of Internet technologies, it is natural that the Internet as a new kind of mass media produces irreversible impacts on youth’s social perceptions. Researchers used a set of surveys and questionnaires to analyze the ways in which youth preferred to use Internet, as well as the needs which young people sought to satisfy with the help of the Internet.

A briefing session with interviewers was aimed at explaining the major objectives and study procedures. The results of the discussed research suggest that under the impact of the Internet use radio is no longer used at all. Also, “results indicate that the internet has emerged to become the most important media among young people in Hong Kong. Respondents reported that the time spent on surfing the internet exceeded the time spent on watching television and listening to radio” (Chan & Fang, 2007).

The majority of respondents used internet instead of newspapers, magazines, and television; with the growing number of young internet users, the Internet competes with traditional leisure and entertainment. Most respondents used search engines to locate information, and for young people, the Internet was the major source of information on sensitive subjects.

From the sociological perspective, the use of the Internet as the major source of information has already turned into a broad international trend. With the growing accessibility of the Internet, youth is more likely to use it to satisfy its individual needs. It should be noted that mass media and mass media messages are the critical agents of socialization, which young people use to shape their beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. Numerous social and demographic variables are also closely associated with the time spent on different media.

In many instances, the research performed by Chan and Fang (2007) is the starting point of a more profound sociological analysis, that could shed the light on the way the Internet and related media impact youth perceptions about different social environments, and more importantly, how the Internet can be used to shape these beliefs and preferences in a way that would promote positive social relationships, social harmonization, and positive social ideologies.

In many instances, the Internet and mass media are the major sources of ideological messages, which carry hidden meanings that later become encoded into youth’s social understanding of the world. Whether young people can resist undesirable and negative ideological meanings also depends on the quality of sociological analysis with regard to the ways the Internet impacts the youth.

For me, the article has become a valuable source of primary information. First of all, I have finally come to realize the scope and role of the Internet revolution and the impacts it tends to produce on young hearts and minds. Second, I was surprised to read that for shopping information young people unchangeably prefer conventional magazines over the Internet.

That means that the youth are not always willing to change their reading habits, and that the Internet is not always the most convenient source of information. Finally, I was able to evaluate the challenges the current mass media face in their attempt to remain competitive instruments of youth socialization; in the technological environment, traditional media can remain effective socializing agents only by converging themselves with the Internet.

To a large extent, the link between the use of the Internet and the youth’s perceptions has led me to recognize the new media potential of the Internet. Sociological analysis of mass media is extremely useful when it comes to the need for evaluating the socializing potential of particular messages. For example, “The Bus Uncle” incident in Hong Kong and the speed with which the message spread among Internet users suggest that market practitioners and sociologists can use these criteria to study the impact, which social messages (for example, anti-AIDS messages) could potentially have on youth if spread via the Internet.

Unfortunately, the authors present their research results in a way that makes it difficult to link them to the major sociological concepts. In other words, Chan and Fang (2007) present their results without interpreting them through the prism of the broader social contexts. That young people in Hong Kong use the Internet more actively than other mass media is obvious, but how could these results be used to improve their perceptions regarding the world around them?

Or, is there any chance the Internet could be used to help young people resolve their most problematic issues? These questions remain unanswered, and although the article sheds the light on the way the youth choose to use the Internet, it will be impossible to review the benefits and drawbacks of the Internet expansion and the changes it produces in socialization patterns among adolescents and young adults without associating these habits with broader social changes.

References

Chan, K. & Fang, W. (2007). Use of the Internet and traditional media among young people.

Young Consumers, 8 (4): 244-256.


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