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Education for the Net Generation - 2. Survey of Children and Parents Concerning Internet Use: A Japan-U.S. Comparison (5)

Japanese Chinese

7. The Internet and Children's Communication

Figures 7-1 to 7-4 show the relationship between the anxiety of not being connected to the Internet and answers to each of the following questions.

1) Do you often communicate with someone whom you know only via the Internet?
2) Do you often communicate with your school friends?
3) Do you often communicate with your mother?
4) Do you often communicate with your father?

Looking at Figure 7-1, it is obvious that children who are most anxious about not being on the Internet are those who communicate more with people they know only via the Internet. In Figure 7-2, no clear relationship can be seen between Internet anxiety and the frequency of communication with school friends. Furthermore, from Figures 7-3 and 7-4, we can deduce that children who communicate more with either their father or mother have less Internet anxiety.


Figure 7-1: Internet Anxiety × Frequency of Communication with Internet-only Acquaintance


Figure 7-2: Internet Anxiety × Frequency of Communication with School Friends


Figure 7-3: Internet Anxiety × Frequency of Communication with Mother


Figure 7-4: Internet Anxiety × Frequency of Communication with Father

8. Children's Perception of the Internet

I have used the SD method (semantic differential method) by the Likert Scale (distance scale) to assess the answers to the following six questions related to children's perception of the Internet.

Children's perceptions of the Internet
Feelings that children associate with the Internet...
1) secure ⇔ uneasy
2) fondness ⇔ dislike
3) interesting ⇔ boring
4) relaxing ⇔ stressful
5) useful ⇔ useless
6) familiar ⇔ unfamiliar


Figure 8-1: Children's Perception of the Internet

Figure 8-1 shows the children's perception of the Internet based on the average value computed by the scale. For the adults, the Internet is something worrisome, dangerous, etc., but for children, it is something they feel secure about, something they like, something interesting, relaxing, useful, and friendly.

Table 8-1 and 8-2 show the correlation coefficient and the average/standard deviation, respectively. In addition, I have marked the 1% significance level of Pearson's correlation coefficient with (**) in Table 8-1.


Table 8-1: Co-relation Coefficient of Children's Perception of the Internet


Table 8-2: Average/standard Deviation of Children's Perception of the Internet

Looking at Table 8-2, it is apparent that children have a positive perception of the value of the Internet from the semantic choices they made, such as 1) secure, 2) fondness, 3) interesting, 4) relaxing, 5) useful, 6) familiar, considering that most values shown in the table are below average. (Note: A smaller value represents the higher tendency.

Figure 8-2 compares answers to the question "Do you worry about your children when they are online?" by parents in Japan and the U.S. The result of the questionnaire suggests that in contrast to children who have a positive image of the Internet as secure and friendly, parents worry about their children using the Internet.


Figure 8-2: Concerns of Parents about their Child's usage of Internet

Looking at Figure 8-2, more than 50% of Japanese parents responded they were slightly worried about children's Internet usage. In contrast, the response from American parents shows that 47.8% indicated considerable or intense worry about Internet use, while only 35.9% of Japanese parents answered so, 12% less than American parents. Figure 8-3 compares answers to the question "What kind of concern do you have about children using the Internet?" asked to parents in Japan and the U.S. 25% of American parents responded that they worry about strangers soliciting their children online, and this is the top concern. For Japanese parents, this is not such a serious concern, only about 12% of parents who responded they worry about solicitations from strangers. However, concerns about their children accessing adult sites and personal information leakage are among the top 3 concerns of both parents in Japan and the U.S.

If the results from Figure 7-1 (Japanese children with the highest Internet anxiety are those who use this tool to communicate with people only known via the Internet) are compared with those in Figure 20 (relationship between Internet anxiety and average daily home Internet usage), it is obvious that Japanese children using the Internet for long periods of time at home are communicating with Internet-only acquaintances. Thus, they are anxious about losing access to these people, which is solely dependent upon being on-line. Yet, it is the parents of these children who worry least about their children's use of the Internet. Perhaps, Japanese parents do not realize how often solicitation from strangers occurs on the Internet.


Figure 8-3: Japan-U.S. Comparison about Concerns with Child's Use of Internet

(Above graph compares the results of the answers to the question "What worries do you most have about your child using the Internet? Specify three concerns.")

In addition, I conducted an analysis of variance for the relationship between the children's perception of the Internet and their favorite subjects. There is a certain significance for the answer of 3) Interesting vs. Boring (F(10)= 2.62,p<.01), but no significance among the rest of answers of 1), 2), 4), 5), and 6).

Furthermore, the same analysis was conducted of the relationship between children's perception of Internet and the fear of not being connected. This showed that all answers were significant.
1) F(3)= 25.73, p <.01,
2) F(3)= 22.74, p <.01,
3) F(3)= 22.60, p <.01,
4) F(3)= 41.61, p <.01,
5) F(3)= 5.70,  p <.01,
6) F(3)= 38.22, p <.01.



Table 8-3: Internet Anxiety and Children's Perception of the Internet

Table 8-3 shows the relationship between Internet anxiety and children's perception of the Internet. The level of significance is represented by several gradations between green (lower average) and red (higher average). The more children feel Internet anxiety, the more their feelings or perceptions associated with the Internet are described as 1) a sense of security, 2) fondness, 3) interest, 4) relaxation, 5) usefulness, and 6) familiarity. We have found that children sometimes devote a lot of time to the Internet with the result that they name their PC as if it were a pet. It is assumed that with regard to their PC, some children tend to have feelings of fondness, interest, usefulness, friendliness, and security as if it were a pet or a friend, and this kind of deep attachment may be a reason why they feel uneasy when they are away from their PC. If this attachment is too strong, it is possible that the child will become anxious when not connected to the Internet.

Figure 8-4 shows the relationship between children's perception of the Internet and average daily home Internet usage. If children have positive perceptions such as 1) a sense of security, 2) fondness, 3) interesting, 4) relaxing, 5) usefulness, and 6) familiarity, and if their attachment is stronger, then the values of the vertical axis are smaller.


Figure 8-4: Children's Perception of the Internet and Average Daily Home Internet Usage

 

# All figures and graphs in this article are a part of the research data (including re-analysis data). For the original data, please refer to the sources below.

 

<APPENDIX>

Research period and subjects

Japan
Survey Period: Oct 12, 2007 - Oct 15, 2007
Children questioned: 936
Children responded (valid response): 695
Parents questioned: 858
Parents responded (valid response): 671

U.S.
Survey Period: May 1, 2007 - May 3, 2007
Children questioned: 717
Children responded (valid response): 603
Parents questioned: 680
Parents responded (valid response): 609

 

Sources
"Survey of Children Concerning Internet Use: A Japan-U.S. Comparison", Nov 2007
Supervising editor: Hiroko Kanoh, the associate professor of the Networking and Computing Service Center at the Yamagata University
Special Committee on Online Security, the Broadband Association

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