social sciences

In Defense of the Internet: Stimulation Hypothesis

Every new technological advancement raises new questions. How will it affect us psychologically? How will it shape society? Will it change the existing relationships between, citizens, corporations, media, and government? Those who have lived through the emergence of electricity, steam trains, landlines (phones), radio, TV, and ultimately the internet, will probably be able to tell you that all these inventions come with concern. Will the existence of the internet eventually lead to the end of all direct human interaction? 

Often I hear parents express worry over the fact that children seem to be spending ‘a lot of time’ on the internet. Shouldn’t they be playing outside, hanging out with their friends? Has the internet made us more individualistic and antisocial? It is regularly suggested that people ‘nowadays’ spent more time on the internet than engaging in contact with their friends and family. This could be defined as the displacement hypothesis (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). However, a contrasting hypothesis states that people actively use the internet as a means to participate in online communication, this is referred to as the stimulation hypothesis. Valkenburg and Peter found significant results that support their stimulation hypothesis.

The internet has probably enormously increased mobilization and globalization. It has become easier to look for jobs elsewhere and to enjoy pop music created in other countries. And when one of our friends is temporarily studying abroad, we can effortlessly keep in contact through many internet services. Moreover, we can make new friends, and look for relationships using apps and sites. And according to data gathered in the USA, 23% have found their spouse by using these services (Smith & Duggan, 2013).

However, the internet will continue to bring more possibilities to make our lives simpler and often more complex as well. Thus people are persistently going to take a reflexive stance on new inventions regarding services provided using an internet connection. As individuals will continue to refer back to times when such services were not available yet, through the use of the internet. And unfortunately the sole way to find out which services fit our lifestyle and serve the greater good is through a process of trial and error. We cannot anticipate all of the possible consequences.

References

Smith, A. and Duggan, M. (2013) Online dating & relationships. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships/ 

Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2007). Online communication and adolescent well‐being: Testing the stimulation versus the displacement hypothesis. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1169-1182.

Opinion

In defense of Millennials

‘Millennials’ seems to be a new buzzword, which is often used in negative settings. But what are millennials? And how to they differ from previous generations? While doing some research on the internet there seem to be different ideas about the age range of this generation. Apparently there isn’t a general consensus on who gets to call who a millennial. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a millennial is “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000”. 

A quick google search including the term ‘millennial’ will lead you to many different articles written about this generation. The first article that pops up: ‘Are millennials too sensitive?’.  This is a common statement I usually find in the same sentence as the aforementioned generation, political correctness is often tied to this group. Then I stumble upon a video by an Australian man claiming that millennials are lazy because they grew up in settings where everyone got a prize, and that you ‘just get things in life’.  Then Google gives me other search suggestions, including: millennials characteristics. Interesting. This leads me to the following article: ‘8 Millennials’ traits you should know about before you hire them’. While the overall article isn’t negative at all, it does make me wonder whether it is possible to characterize an entire generation like that. Aren’t there other labels besides Millennial, that determine how people will behave?

Using the Twitter search option to figure out what others think about Millennials will lead to interesting findings as well. A tweet numerously shared by many is the following: ‘Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?’ (from The Economist). There are many funny responses mostly explaining that perhaps they do not have the resources to go out and buy diamonds. And strangely enough, an article on Forbes points out that millennials do buy diamonds.  Mashable posted a list of things that millennials have ruined according to different sources. This list includes the Olympics in Brazil, bar soap, Great Brittian, and sex.

But are millennials really ruining everything? Have they even had the chance to do so? I’m going to list some statistics of the USA, since this word mostly seems to be applied to American ‘millennials’. As can be seen in the aforementioned articles, most if not all examples come from the USA. Looking at graphs from the US census bureau, there definitely seems to be an increase in the level of education acquired over the years. So it is safe to say that the generations aren’t getting ‘dumber’. Second, it seems as if there is a high unemployment rate among this generation, however as Forbes explains, you have to correctly interpret such data. As many young adults are still in college and might not have time to work, many programs are full-time studies. Although due to expensive tuition and living expenses, students might still be forced to look of jobs.
Also since we learn more and more about how we’re affecting the earth, climate change has become a hot topic. According to Nielsen millennials are willing to pay more for products that are sustainable. Fortunately, a more thorough search on the internet will expose you to a more positive outlook on millennials!

However, I still think you cannot generalize a whole generation, people are individuals that grew up under different circumstances. And criticizing younger generations is nothing new – it has been happening since ancient times. Supposedly Socrates has said the following:

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

We can easily apply this to any older generations complaining about the younger ones. Read this funny list of historical figures blaming the younger generations for all things bad.
All in all, people are just afraid of change and will scrutinize anything that could possibly bring just that, such as younger generations.

Source picture: Harvard Classics Five-Foot Shelf of Books, Volume II, published in 1910.