How do you spend your time on the internet?
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Several studies in 2015 examined the association between time spent on the internet and academic performance. Their results suggest that a deeper issue to be concerned with is not the amount of time spent on the internet, but the motive behind the use of that time. They also reveal trends between male and female students, and motivated and unmotivated students. The insights from these studies will guide parents and mentors in helping students develop healthy habits when using the internet, which has become essential for modern education. This article is a companion to our article on “Overcoming Video Game Addiction

Girls & Boys Interact With the Internet Differently
A study from Syracuse University examined 609 10th and 11th graders in South Korea [1]. These students come from families that are in a higher socioeconomic bracket than typical South Korean families, and have parents that are more educated than typical South Korean parents. The study found a striking difference between how girls and boys interacted with the internet. While boys were more likely to use the Internet to play games, girls were more likely to use it to watch educational material. Girls were also more likely to blog and to blog for longer periods than boys. Not surprisingly, those who used the Internet for educational purposes performed better in school than those who used it for recreational purposes. An interesting finding was that closeness or conflict between students and their parents had a strong effect on how students used the Internet and how well they did in school.  

Another study published in 2015 found similar trends between boys and girls, and between academically successful students and non-successful students [2]. This study examined 1,302 students in Turkey that were in the 10th to 12th grades. The researchers found that, on average, boys have a higher degree of Internet addiction than do girls. The more academically successful the student, the lower his or her degree of Internet addiction was found to be.

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What About Highly Motivated Students?
A study of 186 fourth-year medical students at Malaysian Public University revealed how highly motivated students maximized their interaction on the internet such that it improved their grades [3]. We can infer that these students are very talented, given that they got into medical school and made it to their fourth year. 73% of the students were female, which is significant to note because females are less prone to video game addiction than males. 69% of the students lived on campus, which is significant because it tells us that there likely wasn’t daily parental supervision. A questionnaire consisting of eight “yes or no” questions was given to each student. Answering yes to five or more of the questions meant that the student was considered to be a dependent Internet user. 36 students (20.5%) were identified as dependent users. The results showed that there was no difference in GPA between dependent and non-dependent users. However, those who used the Internet for more than six hours per day had higher GPA’s than students that used it less than that. 64.4% of the students viewed the Internet as a helpful supplement to what they were studying in school. What we can conclude from this study is that highly motivated students have the discipline to use the internet to boost their learning while minimizing how much it distracts them from studying.

As with many things in life, moderation is the secret to preventing abuse. Healthy habits should be practiced early on in the student’s exposure to the Internet. Parents might consider enforcing “no tech” times such as during family dinners and outings, so that the child grows up learning to control the compulsion to use the Internet. Instead of completely banning the use of the Internet and technology, parents might consider asking their children to do one hour of educational enrichment on the Internet for every hour of recreation time on the Internet, or some ratio that teaches students to not view the Internet as a way of escaping responsibilities and academic challenges. Severe cases of Internet addiction should be assessed and treated by mental health professionals.

By David H. Nguyen, Ph.D.


  1. Soohyun Kim. “Effects of Internet Use on Academic Achievement and Behavioral Adjustment among South Korean Adolescents: Mediating and Moderating Roles of Parental Factors.” Syracuse University Child and Family Studies – Dissertations, 2015.
  2. Yalin Kilic Türel and Muhammet Toraman. “The Relationship between Internet Addiction and Academic Success of Secondary School Students.Anthropologist, 20(1,2): 280-288 (2015) 
  3. Harlina Halizah Siraj,  Abdus Salam,  Nurul Ashiqin bt Hasan,  Tan Hiang Jin,  Raihanah Binti Roslan,  Muhammad Nazam Bin Othman. “Internet Usage and Academic Performance: A Study in a Malaysian Public University.” International Medical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.  83 – 86,  April  2015.