HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF VALUES ON THE INTERNET

P. Alves1, C. Morais1, P. Renes2, L. Miranda1

1Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (PORTUGAL)
2University of Cantabria (SPAIN)
In our society, it is common to hear that society has lost values or that social and moral values no longer exist. The technological vortex and the constant presence of the network in interpersonal relations, particularly among higher education students, raise an added problem about what values and non-values are transmitted through the Internet. In a complex world, where the diversity of values assumes permanent characteristics, we consider it paramount to understand the relationship of undergraduates with the Internet, especially with regards to their perception of the presence of values when using the Internet to communicate with colleagues, friends and family.

Therefore, the main aims of the study were to: determine whether Internet use promotes values of friendship, cooperation, creativity, honesty, equality, freedom, respect, responsibility and solidarity; assess whether students using the Internet to communicate with colleagues, friends and family take such values into account; find out if the weekly frequency of Internet use influences the promotion of values on the Internet.

The methodology applied in this study is quantitative and exploratory, following a descriptive and interpretive approach, using experimental research procedures through survey, and the main data collection technique used was the questionnaire.

The data of this study was obtained in the academic year of 2016/2017, from a sample of higher education students belonging to two institutions, a Portuguese one and a Spanish one. The sample is made up of 724 undergraduates, among which 83.7% are from the Portuguese Institution and 16.3% are from the Spanish institution.

With respect to the evaluation of students’ perceptions regarding the Internet promotion of values of friendship, cooperation, creativity, honesty, equality, freedom, respect, responsibility and solidarity, we observed that most students consider that Internet use often promotes the referred values. In addition to a descriptive analysis of the data, we sought to determine if the frequency of use in weekly hours has an influence on the importance given to values by the students when communicating through the Internet. In order to assess the influence of the frequency of use in the consideration of the values, the distribution of the sample data regarding the number of weekly hours of Internet use was made through a division into quartiles, resulting in the creation of four groups, each one corresponding to its quartile.

After coding the data, transforming it into quantitative data and assigning it to the respective groups, a multiple comparison of the means was carried out by using the SPSS program and Tukey’s test. The results obtained from the application of the mentioned test as well as from the appropriate procedures between the groups under analysis show that as far as Internet communication is concerned, there are significant differences between the groups showing a greater number of hours of Internet use and the groups with less hours of use in various situations, namely regarding communication with colleagues - in the values of friendship, equality, freedom and respect; and regarding communication with family members - in the values of honesty, equality, freedom, respect and solidarity. These results indicate the existence of a number of aspects which deserve further analysis and will be deepened in the final paper.