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A Social Cognitive Explanation of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Theory of Media Attendance
Unformatted Document Text:  of the first “Internet generation,” a cohort of particular interest to scholars wishing to follow the new medium from its birth. And, there is the general caveat that scholars are interested in the lawful relationships among variables that should be observable among many groups, including purposive samples of college students. But there are also some important ways that college students differ from the general population that may affect the relationships among variables, and these are particularly salient from the SCT perspective. Internet usage has become such a vital part of collegiate life that students are virtually forced to embrace the medium when they enter college. But half do not begin using the Internet until after they reach college (Pew Research Center, 2002a). In SCT terms, this may create a large subclass of student users with low Internet Self Efficacy and thus exaggerate the importance of that variable in student populations. “Non- volitional” uses in which students are required to perform class-related tasks on the Internet might diminish the impact of active selection processes represented by the conventional Uses and gratifications approach. College students, and particularly the first year students who populate the large introductory class sections from which many willing survey respondents are drawn, have relatively high levels of depression (Rich & Scovel, 1987) and depression is known to inhibit effective self- regulation (Bandura, 1991), possibly exaggerating the effect of that variable as well. One reason that first year students are depressed is because they have been seized from the bosom of their family and friends. That may unnaturally heighten the importance of “sociability” or “social interaction” gratifications and contribute to disproportionate usage of the Web for social support. Indeed, college students demonstrate an especially heavy reliance the Internet for social interaction and they are also more likely to engage

Authors: Eastin, Matthew. and Larose, Robert.
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of the first “Internet generation,” a cohort of particular interest to scholars wishing to
follow the new medium from its birth. And, there is the general caveat that scholars are
interested in the lawful relationships among variables that should be observable among
many groups, including purposive samples of college students.
But there are also some important ways that college students differ from the
general population that may affect the relationships among variables, and these are
particularly salient from the SCT perspective. Internet usage has become such a vital part
of collegiate life that students are virtually forced to embrace the medium when they
enter college. But half do not begin using the Internet until after they reach college (Pew
Research Center, 2002a). In SCT terms, this may create a large subclass of student users
with low Internet Self Efficacy and thus exaggerate the importance of that variable in
student populations. “Non- volitional” uses in which students are required to perform
class-related tasks on the Internet might diminish the impact of active selection processes
represented by the conventional Uses and gratifications approach. College students, and
particularly the first year students who populate the large introductory class sections from
which many willing survey respondents are drawn, have relatively high levels of
depression (Rich & Scovel, 1987) and depression is known to inhibit effective self-
regulation (Bandura, 1991), possibly exaggerating the effect of that variable as well. One
reason that first year students are depressed is because they have been seized from the
bosom of their family and friends. That may unnaturally heighten the importance of
“sociability” or “social interaction” gratifications and contribute to disproportionate
usage of the Web for social support. Indeed, college students demonstrate an especially
heavy reliance the Internet for social interaction and they are also more likely to engage


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