Journal of Addiction & Addictive Disorders Category: Clinical Type: Short Review

Internet Use and Internet Addiction in the Context of Foreign Language Reading Comprehension

Aniko Ficzere1, Eva Stranovska1 and Zdenka Gadusova1*
1 Constantine the philosopher university, Nitra, Stefanikova 67, SK-94974 Nitra, Slovakia

*Corresponding Author(s):
Zdenka Gadusova
Constantine The Philosopher University, Nitra, Stefanikova 67, SK-94974 Nitra, Slovakia
Tel:+421 905537611,

Received Date: Jan 06, 2022
Accepted Date: Jan 20, 2022
Published Date: Jan 27, 2022


The variable Internet use belongs not only to the social phenomena of the present, which cause changes in reading comprehension in a foreign language, but also to the research problem of perception of literacy and foreign language text comprehension in the context of the variable Internet addiction and its consequences on students’ thinking and skills. In our short review, we focus on the construct of Internet addiction from a pedagogical point of view and point out possible connections between the degree of Internet addiction and school performance, specifically in the field of foreign language reading comprehension. The paper is based on the theoretical concept of the causal hypothesis of George et al., extended by Coiro’s and Dobler’s definition of online reading comprehension. At the same time, we point to the results of our research into the relationship between reading comprehension in a foreign language (in English and German), Internet use (time spent on the Internet) and Internet addiction (positive correlation).


Foreign language; Internet addiction; Internet use; Reading comprehension


The introduction of electronic technologies is undoubtedly one of the factors that has had a far-reaching impact on the (not only) lifestyle of the young generation in recent decades [1,2]. The reality of everyday life for today's students is complemented and expanded by online activities in the virtual space [3]. Along with the rapid expansion of ICT tools, a new form of non-substance addictions has emerged called Internet addiction. Children, adolescents and young adults are the most vulnerable age groups in terms of Internet addiction [4-6 and others]. The introduction of information technology has multiplied our understanding of literacy and reading comprehension. On the one hand, there are constant voices that the use of ICT tools from an early age distracts students from reading and causes a fundamental change in reading habits [7-9]. On the other hand, the online environment is largely based on the principles of reading and writing diverse (mostly foreign-language) texts, which underlines and expands the meaning, objectives and the very definition of reading comprehension [2,10-12]. 

Through the use of the Internet, the possibilities for establishing authentic contact with a foreign language have multiplied. There is a lack of clarification in the professional literature as to why the comprehension of the read foreign language texts is nevertheless low. The level of knowledge uptake in schools is increasing and, in addition, new forms of computer-based education and other ICT devices are constantly being added. In examining information behavior, we must also take into account the fact that students do not use ICT tools in their free time, primarily for educational purposes. In this context, we also take into account the phenomenon of Internet addiction and its impact on student understanding. In our paper, we focus on the construct of Internet addiction from a pedagogical point of view and point out at possible connections between the degree of Internet addiction and school performance, specifically in the field of foreign language reading comprehension. 

Internet addiction in the age group of adolescents (teenagers) 

There are several terms to name this state, of which the most commonly used names are problematic internet use [13], excessive internet use [14] and internet addiction [15]. These terms have many features in common, so we agree with Douglas et al., [16], who consider the concept of problematic internet use to be the same as the term internet addiction. Internet addiction criteria largely coincide with the general components of addiction: increasing need to perform the activity (tolerance), withdrawal symptoms, conflicts (intrapsychic or social conflicts) and relapses [14]. Although time spent online is an important indicator of Internet addiction, not everyone who uses the Internet on a daily basis is considered addicted. Shaw and Black [17], Király et al., [4] describe a key characteristic of Internet addiction as an intense emotional experience associated with computer and / or Internet use. An individual often engages in thoughts in online activities that bring him positive feelings and is unable to control himself despite the possible negative consequences of this behaviour. Internet addiction shows links to an individual’s personality. Young and Rogers [18] describe Internet addicts as those who are emotionally sensitive, abstract-minded and prefer independent activities. 

Internet addiction is a broad-spectrum phenomenon that usually relates to the excessive use of certain types of applications in leisure time [15]. Currently, the intensively researched subcategory of Internet addiction is smartphone addiction. Smartphones are very popular due to their portability and diverse features, and are used by younger and younger generations of students. According to research, addiction to smartphones is manifested in the age group of adolescents (teenagers), or young adults and negatively affects students' school performance [19-21 and others]. Addicts most often use their smartphones to monitor virtual communities, send messages using a messenger [19,22] and play games [23]. 

There is further evidence in the literature that poor school performance and Internet addiction are interlinked: addicted individuals tend to show worse grades and poor school performance is also a predictor of Internet addiction [24,25]. Lower school education also implies a higher likelihood of Internet addiction [6,26]. According to the causal hypothesis, online activities replace social or cognitive stimulating activities in direct interaction with peers, spontaneous and creative play in young users, and can thus block the natural development of personality [1]. Widyanto and Griffiths [27] suggest that problematic Internet use tends to reflect adolescents’ existing psychosocial problems. Students with insufficient social and communication skills prefer to play and communicate using a computer. This group of young people is unlikely to be able to establish quality and satisfying links with their real social environment, which is offset by entertainment in a virtual space. 

There are currently professional discussions about the essential features of Internet addiction, as well as its inclusion in the list of mental disorders, and we do not have a uniform definition of this phenomenon yet. Internet use is often associated with mental health promotion activities, such as building and maintaining relationships using written (and read) texts [14]. 

Internet use and foreign language reading comprehension 

Various aspects of Internet addiction are richly documented in the psychological and psychiatric literature, however, relatively little research is devoted to finding links between Internet use and the quality, or quantity of foreign language reading. Most studies point to a negative relationship between excessive Internet use and reading, while a smaller body of research has found no direct link between these phenomena. Levine, Waite, and Bowman [28] found a negative relationship between extensive messenger use and reading frequency, which was mediated by a greater degree of inconsistency in reading. According to the research of Bukhori et al., [7] addiction to the use of a smartphone negatively affects the intensity and willingness to read and also indirectly affects the school achievement of students. Çizmeci [8] argues that the intensive use of smartphones is an attractive alternative for young people to spend their free time, which is reflected in a change in reading habits and a smaller amount of time devoted to reading. Ficzere, Stranovská, and Gadušová [29] found a negative link between Internet use and reading in a second foreign language, while Internet addiction controversially correlated positively with reading in English. However, the links between the use of ICT tools and the change in reading habits have not been demonstrated in further research (cf. [30,31]) and there also is a lack of research examining the links between Internet use and the quality of reading comprehension.

Conclusion and Further Research

Learning and mastering new information in the digital age is significantly changing its character, so it is necessary to take this fact into account in pedagogical practice. Internet addiction is a complex construct, so we can observe its relevance for reading in a foreign language on several levels. On the one hand, individuals addicted to the Internet spend an excessive amount of time online, which can lead to neglecting study activities, lower willingness to read and a change in reading habits. On the other hand, the Internet brings the possibility of frequent contact, especially with foreign language content and texts, which the student chooses independently according to their preferences. This work with foreign language texts is rewarding and supporting autonomous and informal forms of learning for students. At the same time, more experienced and better readers are not limited by the language barrier, so they have wider opportunities to spend their free time meaningfully via the Internet. 

From the pedagogical point of view, we can also interpret the scores on the Internet addiction scale as sensitivity and stronger self-reflection of respondents, which are reflected in higher scores on the Internet addiction scale, but also create good preconditions for developing reading comprehension skills. We see this hypothesis as a perspective for further research into the use of the Internet.


This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract No. APVV-17-0071 and VEGA 1/0062/19.


  1. George MJ, Russell MA, Piontak JR, Odgers CL (2017) Concurrent and subsequent associations between daily digital technology use and high-risk adolescents’ mental health symptoms. Child Dev 89: 78-88.
  2. Coiro J, Dobler E (2007) Exploring the online reading comprehension strategies used by sixth-grade skilled readers to search for and locate information on the Internet. Reading Research Quarterly 42: 214-257.
  3. Prensky MR (2010) Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning. Sage, Thousand Oaks, USA.
  4. Király O, Griffiths MD, Urbán R, Farkas J, Kökönyei G, et al. (2014) Problematic internet use and problematic online gaming are not the same: Findings from a large nationally representative adolescent sample. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 17: 749-754.
  5. Morrison CM, Gore H (2010) The relationship between excessive Internet use and depression: A questionnaire-based study of 1,319 young people and adults. Psychopathology 43: 121-126.
  6. Pontes HM, Patrão IM, Griffiths MD (2014) Portuguese validation of the Internet Addiction Test: An empirical study. J Behav Addict 3: 107-114.
  7. Bukhori S, Said H, Wijaya T, Nor FM (2019) The effect of smartphone addiction, achievement motivation, and textbook reading intensity on students’ academic achievement. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies 2019: 66-80.
  8. Ümit EC (2017) No time for reading, addicted to scrolling: the relationship between smartphone addiction and reading attitudes of Turkish youth. Intermedia International e-journal 4: 290-302.
  9. Willingham DT (2017) The Reading Mind: A cognitive approach to understanding how the mind reads. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, USA. Pg no: 256.
  10. Brun-Mercer N (2019) Online reading strategies for the classroom. English Teaching Forum 57: 2-11.
  11. Leu D, McVerry JG, O'Byrne WI, Kiili C, Zawilinski L, et al. (2011) The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55: 5-14.
  12. Turbill J (2002) The Four Ages of Reading Philosophy and Pedagogy: A Framework for Examining Theory and Practice. Reading Online 5: 1-13.
  13. Beard KW, Wolf EM (2001) Modification in the proposed diagnostic criteria for internet addiction. Cyberpsychol Behav 4: 377-383.
  14. Griffiths M (2000) Does internet and computer “addiction” exist? Some case study evidence. CyberPsychology & Behavior 3: 211-218.
  15. Young KS (2011) Clinical assessment of Internet-addicted clients. In: Young KS, de Abreu CN (eds.). Internet addiction: A handbook and guide to evaluation and treatment. Wiley, New Jersey, USA.
  16. Douglas AC, Mills JE, Niang M, Stepchenkova S, Byun S, et al. (2008) Internet addiction: Meta-synthesis of qualitative research for the decade 1996-2006. Computers in Human Behavior 24: 3027-3044.
  17. Shaw M, Black DW (2008) Internet addiction: definition, assessment, epidemiology and clinical management. CNS Drugs 22: 353-365.
  18. Young KS, Rogers RC (1998) The relationship between depression and internet addiction. CyberPsychology & Behavior 1: 25-28.
  19. Haug S, Castro RP, Kwon M, Filler A, Kowatsch T, et al. (2015) Smartphone use and smartphone addiction among young people in Switzerland. J Behav Addict 4: 299-307.
  20. Nayak JK (2018) Relationship among smartphone usage, addiction, academic performance and the moderating role of gender: A study of higher education students in India. Computers & Education 2018: 164-173.
  21. Samaha M, Hawi NS (2016) Relationships among smartphone addiction, stress, academic performance, and satisfaction with life. Computers in Human Behavior 2016: 321-325.
  22. Garcia-Santillán A, Espinosa-Ramos E (2021) Addiction to the smartphone in high school students: How it’s in daily life? Contemporary Educational Technology 13: 296.
  23. Hwang Y, Park N (2017) Is smartphone addiction comparable between adolescents and adults? Examination of the degree of smartphone use, type of smartphone activities, and addiction levels among adolescents and adults. International Telecommunications Policy Review 24: 59-75.
  24. Erol O, Cirak NS (2019) Exploring the loneliness and internet addiction level of college students based on demographic variables. Contemporary Educational Technology 10: 156-172.
  25. Frangos CC, Fragkos CC, Kiohos AP (2010) Internet addiction among Greek university students: Demographic associations with the phenomenon, using the Greek version of Young's Internet Addiction Test. International Journal of Economic Sciences and Applied Research 3: 49-74.
  26. Soule LC, Shell LW, Kleen BA (2003) Exploring Internet addiction: Demographic characteristics and stereotypes of heavy Internet users. Journal of Computer Information Systems 44: 64-73.
  27. Widyanto L, Griffiths M (2007) Internet addiction: Does it really exist? (revisited). In: Gackenbach J (ed.). Psychology and the Internet. Academic Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
  28. Levine LE, Waite BM, Bowman LL (2007) Electronic media use, reading, and academic distractibility in college youth. Cyberpsychol Behav 10: 560-566.
  29. Ficzere A, Stranovská E, Gadušová Z (2021) Foreign Language Reading Comprehension in the Context of Internet Use. TEM Journal 10: 1983-1991.
  30. Johnsson-Smaragdi U, Jönsson A (2006) Book reading in leisure time: Long-term changes in young people’s book reading habits. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 50: 519-540.
  31. Lepp A (2014) Exploring the relationship between cell phone use and leisure: An empirical analysis and implications for management. Managing Leisure 19: 381-389.

Citation: Ficzere A, Stranovska E, Gadusova Z (2022) Internet Use and Internet Addiction in the Context of Foreign Language Reading Comprehension. J Addict Addictv Disord 9: 081.

Copyright: © 2022  Aniko Ficzere, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Herald Scholarly Open Access is a leading, internationally publishing house in the fields of Sciences. Our mission is to provide an access to knowledge globally.

© 2023, Copyrights Herald Scholarly Open Access. All Rights Reserved!