The study of the relationship between the use of internet technology, digital devices, and academic performance and behaviors has been a topic of interest for researchers for years. A current research study conducted by Robert Truzoli and colleagues with Swansea University and the University of Milan looked at 285 students in an Italian University studying health-related drug courses. The study explored the relationship between problematic internet use and the motivation to learn, and examined psychological and social factors mediating this relationship.     

 New research has found a negative correlation between internet use and academic performance. The study found that a person’s increased internet use impacts their learning strategies, making it harder for them to productively organize their learning and effectively manage their time. They feel less motivated to study and perform well, and therefore perform poorly on their academics.  

As motivation decreases, the more anxious students are while taking tests, which is made worse by the increased levels of loneliness they feel. These poorer social interactions are a result of internet addiction, and impact a student’s motivation to engage in highly social educational environments, such as universities.

 This recently published study by Truzoli and his colleagues used internet addiction tests which measured, 20 items on a 1-4 scale, the extent to which internet disrupts a person’s everyday life, as well as hospital anxiety and depression scales widely used measures of anxiety and depression. They also used the UCLA loneliness scale which consists of statements designed to assess loneliness. And lastly, the researchers used motivated strategies for learning questionnaires that measure learning strategies and the motivation in students to study.

 Increased internet use has also been thought to impact students’ cognitive skills by impairing abilities across a range of executive functioning tasks such as impulse control, planning, and affects reward sensitivity. These cognitive abilities and skills may impact academic behaviors such as the motivation to learn, ability to plan, and reinforcement from task completion, as well as produce higher levels of depression and anxiety.  

 This is not only impacting students’ mental health but is also impacting their growth, their ambitions, and their future lives. Though this study only focuses on higher educational establishments with a highly selective case study, care must be practiced at all age levels to reduce the damage caused by internet addiction.

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