ROLE OF PROBLEMATIC INTERNET USAGE IN THE RISK OF SELECTED ADDICTIONS AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITIES IN KENYA
JANE, MARETE GAKII
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Internet connectivity and usage have increased tremendously over the last few years. Although the connectivity in institutions of learning is meant for accessing important information and academic purposes, university students use internet for other purposes such as social interactions, shopping, entertainment and gaming. The growth of internet could have adverse negative influence on the users. It is a matter of concern because it has the potential to lead to addiction risks and to change the behaviour of people. The focus of this study was to investigate the role of problematic internet usage on the risk of selected addictions among undergraduate students in universities in Kenya. The objectives of the study were: to investigate the role of problematic internet usage on the risk of addiction to online gambling, online pornography, online sexual violence and online drug and substance abuse among undergraduate students in universities in Kenya. The study utilized Behaviourist Theory and Social Learning Theory. Ex-post fact research design was used for this study. The target population for the study was 97284 comprising all the undergraduate students in four universities and the accessible population was 2 nd and 3 rd year students comprising of 18911. The sample size comprised of 391 undergraduate students, 16 student peer counsellors and four (4) student counsellors making 411 participants. Data was collected by use of a questionnaire, an in-depth interview schedule and focus group discussion. The questionnaire was administered to undergraduate students, in-depth interview schedule was used on the student counsellors and focus group discussion was conducted among student peer counsellors. Each focus group discussion comprised of four participants. Purposive sampling was used to select the universities of study. Purposive and simple random sampling were used to select the respondents. One university from the County of Tharaka Nithi with similar characteristics with the sampled universities was purposively selected for piloting to ensure reliability of the research instruments. The pre-test was administered to and the instruments were modified accordingly. Content validity was determined through the opinion of the supervisors. Descriptive statistics of frequencies, percentages and means were used to analyse data. Chi square was used to test the null hypotheses while t-test was used to compare the study variables. Quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 23. Qualitative data was coded and thematically analysed. According to the study findings, problematic internet usage was a significant factor to the risk of selected addictions. The reliability coefficient of problematic internet usage was 0.829, online gambling was 0.875, online pornography was 0.715, online sexual violence was 0.759 and online drug and substance abuse was 0.750. From the study findings, it was established that undergraduate students who engaged in problematic internet usage were predisposed to the risk of addiction to online gambling, online pornography, online sexual violence and online drug and substance abuse. The research recommends that the government and university management prevent development of problematic internet usage by undergraduate students in order to minimize the risk of addictions by controlling internet content and educating students on responsible internet usage. Student peer counsellors can create awareness among their peers while undergraduate students can employ disciplinary measures in using the internet to prevent the risk of addictions. The study has added new knowledge and formed a framework for future research.