E. Andreou, G. Symeonidou

University of Thessaly (GREECE)
Internet use in Greece has increased rapidly and has become a major part of young people’s daily life. The Internet is a virtual world with immense, and continuously growing, sources of information that provide continuous cognitive stimulation. Some scholars propose that the Internet has already driven human society into a different lifestyle than the one prior its existence. Usage of the Internet, apart from its sedentary aspect, could also become “addictive” to some users. Problematic use of the Internet has also received wide coverage in the literature under to notion of Internet addiction and it has been proposed that teachers in schools who provide psychological counselling and guidance should raise the awareness of families on this issue, and the interests of students should be distracted from the Internet and attracted to other environments by organizing periodic activities on subjects that attract students. However, in order to succeed in organizing prevention activities regarding internet use, teachers should themselves have health internet behaviors. These behaviors involve learning how to balance time spent online with all of life’s other activities. Achieving a health balance between all activities is one of the great challenges of the digital age and a skill that student teachers should learn in order to help children how to use online time wisely, when they start their work at schools.

The aim of the present study was to examine student teachers involvement with the internet in relation to their academic work and social life. 589 students from 3 educational departments (primary, pre-school and special education) of a middle-sized university in central Greece participated in the study. 18% of the responders reported that Internet use had interfered either their academic work or social life. Among them, about 4% perceived the internet as having an overall negative effect on their daily lives. Chief among problems was time distortion which resulted in some physical complaints such as disrupted sleep patterns and fatigue and profound academic problems eventually resulting in poor grades and academic probation. Both the use of social networking and playing on-line games were significantly associated with internet addiction problems, while other activities (information seeking, shopping etc.) were not.

Results are discussed in terms of their implications for future research and interventions in student teacher population.