Recent research has examined the context in which preference for specific online activities arises, leading researchers to suggest that excessive Internet users are engaged in specific activities rather than ‘generalized’ Internet use. The present study aimed to partially replicate and expand these findings by addressing four research questions regarding (i) participants' preferred online activities, (i) possible expected changes in online behavior in light of hypothetical scenarios, (iii) perceived quality of life when access to Internet was not possible, and (iv) how participants with self-diagnosed Internet addiction relate to intensity and frequency of Internet use.
A cross-sectional design was adopted using convenience and snowball sampling to recruit participants. A total of 1057 Internet users with ages ranging from 16 to 70 years (Mage = 30 years, SD = 10.84) were recruited online via several English-speaking online forums.
Most participants indicated that their preferred activities were (i) accessing general information and news, (ii) social networking, and (iii) using e-mail and/or online chatting. Participants also reported that there would be a significant decrease of their Internet use if access to their preferred activities was restricted. The study also found that 51% of the total sample perceived themselves as being addicted to the Internet, while 14.1% reported that without the Internet their life would be improved.
The context in which the Internet is used appears to determine the intensity and the lengths that individuals will go to use this tool. The implications of these findings are further discussed.