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My interest in human behavior on the Internet was stimulated while observing my friends surf the World Wide Web. I began to wonder how people act online and what goes on in their mind. I wanted to see if there are people who show signs of normal or addictive behavior and how it differs from more general Internet behavior. There is a wealth of issues regarding the Internet, including safety, security, social networking, business, research, design, information, and addiction. From informal observation it is apparent that many people approach the Internet with some anxiety. It can be defined as a feeling of fear and apprehension felt by individuals when using computers or considering the use of a computer. When we use the Internet we are relating with others. For example, 70% of Internet users build relationships through communication, relationships, social involvement, networking, meetings, or gatherings. Those whose everyday life involves more communication have more social resources-larger social networks, close relationships, community ties, enacted and perceived social support, and extraverted individual orientation, and they are likely to have better psychological functioning, lower levels of stress, and greater happiness. By contrast, those who communicate little and have fewer social resources-social isolation, living alone, the absence of a close relationship, the breakdown or loss of a close relationship, low levels of real and perceived social support, and introversion are more likely to have poor psychological functioning, to feel lonely, and to experience higher levels of depression. Understanding the psychology of the Internet also includes various information gathered from Web browsing, such as getting information on health and science issues to chatting, dating and viewing pornography. When investigating these possibilities I found that previous researchers have not yet compared uses of the Internet with the types of human behaviors and their consequenc- - es.
Date of Publication: September-October 2008