Internet use and personal empowerment of hearing-impaired adolescents

Azy Barak, Yael Sadovsky

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The Internet has become an ordinary and widely accepted alternative social environment-known as cyberspace-in which many people take part in numerous activities. For the hearing-impaired, cyberspace provides extra benefits for two basic reasons: means of communication, which is primarily based on visual (text and images) and not auditory channels, and the convenient possibility of concealing their handicap from other users, thus gaining more security and a sense of equality. The purpose of the current study was to examine characteristics, intensity, and types of use of the Internet by hearing-impaired adolescents compared to an equivalent group of normal-hearing participants, with gender and adolescence stage (age 12-15, or 16-19) as additional independent variables. In addition, the intensity of using the Internet as a possible moderator of deaf participants' well-being was examined by comparing measures of loneliness and self-esteem between low- and high-intensive hearing-impaired users on the one hand, and hearing participants, on the other. Questionnaires were administered to 114 hearing-impaired and 100 hearing participants, matched for intelligence and socio-economic status. Main results showed that for both genders and for the two adolescence stages, hearing-impaired participants were motivated to use, and actually did use, the Internet more intensively than their hearing counterparts. Furthermore, the hearing-impaired used the Internet more than did hearing participants for both personal and group communication. Hearing and intensively Internet-using deaf participants were similar in level of well-being, both higher than the well-being of less-intensively Internet-using deaf participants. The Internet may thus be viewed as an empowering agent for the hearing-impaired.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1802-1815
    Number of pages14
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Volume24
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 2008

    Keywords

    • Adolescents
    • Empowerment
    • Hearing-impaired
    • Internet
    • Well-being

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Psychology (all)

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