THE CONSEQUENCES OF INTERNET café USE ON TURKISH COLLEGE STUDENTS’ SOCIAL CAPITAL
This paper draws on a part of the doctoral research study that investigates the potential impacts of Internet café use on Turkish college students’ social capital. In this study, Internet café usage was portrayed by the amount of time spent and the frequency of online activities engaged at the cafés. Social capital, on the other hand, was characterized by feelings about loneliness, quality of social network with family, quality of social network with friends, and pro-social attitudes. A quantitative research design with a survey technique was employed. The data were collected from 758 undergraduate students from the College of Education of a major Anatolian university. Multiple linear regression with simple slope analysis were conducted to determine the proportion of variance that Internet café use accounts for in social capital and whether participants’ type of accommodation adds anything significant. Results indicated that (a) Internet café usage did not significantly influence on loneliness and pro-social attitudes, (b) spending more time at Internet cafés and frequent entertainment-based online activities led to a decrease in the quality of social networks with both family and friends, (c) frequent online communication activities led to an increase in the quality of social networks with friends, and (d) such effects were the same for participants who stay alone, stay with family, and stay with friends. It was concluded that Internet technology was more than a simple and neutral tool that may constitute complex social dimensions involving profound alterations for youth’s social life.