Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become the world’s most important infrastructure. ICT has also been biggest cause of physical, social and mental health problems of individuals. The main objective of this paper is to study the ICT usage pattern of professional students and identify the health problems in them due to their ICT usage. In this study I have referred ‘Professional Students’ to those students who are pursuing professional studies – Management, Medicine, Dental Medicine, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy and Nursing. Survey method was used for the study.
Questions related to demographics, ICT usage, awareness of health hazards due to ICT, association of ICT with depression and anxiety among students were asked. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether ICT use in professional education is healthy or unhealthy. Keywords ICT, Professional Students, Physical Health, Mental Health, Social Health, Depression, Anxiety, Dependence, Addiction. Introduction It is quite difficult rather impossible to imagine life without technology. Modern technologies such as ICT have helped many of the development sectors like education, finance and banking, government, and what not.
One of the vital sector, it has lot of scope to develop is Health. Along with certain number of benefits, technology follows with some loopholes. According to many studies, indeed, ICT has been proved as life saver in the field of health. ICT has rising advancements. According to Vic Hayes, considered to be father of Wireless Technology, ‘India is emerging as a hot Wi-Fi destination and its wide range of applications can only be imagined in times to come’. Very recent news to support his statement is that the newly constructed Ahmedabad Airport will have WiFi and VoIP services for commuters.
Be connected while waiting for your flight. ICT brings connectivity with the world and it is the major reason why youth are found to be associated with the social networking sites. Young individuals want their own world and social networks are strong virtual communities that give them freedom of expression, a platform of social change, and connectivity all the time. “Mobile Phones replace notebooks at one of the colleges of Gujarat”. (Saturday; Feb 6, 2010; Ahmedabad Mirror). Professors transfer notes, power point presentations and educational videos via bluetooth to student’s cell phones.
It is the true example of new-age technology that is ‘green’, effective and trendy. Principal of the college says that “most of us only take into account the negative impact of mobile phones and overlook the constructive side of technology”. Technology can also become ones counselor in battling depression, say the psychiatrist Dhananjay Gambhire. He advices to play online games, anti depression games, mobile games, online Sudoku and crosswords to fight against depression. There are depression software programmes which help users to detail their problems.
Rising advancements in ICT gives rise to certain problems as complementary gifts to youth. Youth is increasingly getting addicted to numerous forms of ICT. According to recent studies, people spend around nine hours a week just replying to e-mails. The addiction is such that some get up even in the middle of the night to check their mailbox. Even at the time of family functions or holidays or vacations, people can’t stay away from their mobile phones and laptops. Experts have warned that the increasing popularity of social networking sites, emailing and texting may be injurious to public health.
Nada Kakabadse, a professor at Northampton University, says that these technologies are leading to anxiety, reduced productivity and a generation of smart phone orphans. She points out that people these days are increasingly becoming obsessed with information from an ever growing number of sources. Information and communication technology (ICT) provides an excellent creative tool for students in educations. ICT in education has become a necessity than a mere support tool. As there is increasing trend in use of ICT among students there is an equal increase in the health problems in them. Technology has significant side effects on human health” is a proved and accepted hypothesis through many research studies. The present study was carried out to investigate association of health problems among professional students with the use of ICT in their professional studies. This study is carried out in the reputed university of Gujarat. I am not disclosing the details so as to keep it unanimous. Need for the study Through extensive review of literature about the Impact of ICT on public health, I found many researches about impact of ICT on various sets of public health.
Public health relates to any mass of people like women, children, youth, NGOs, government employees, etc etc. As I am surrounded by young students of my university, I got curious to learn about how the ICT has made a significant influence on these professional students. So I took up this study to understand the use and health impacts of ICT on professional students. These students are studying professional courses like medicine, management, pharmacy, physiotherapy, dental medicine and nursing. This is the reason I refer them as ‘Professional Students’.
On doing extensive literature review on this theme, I encountered that efforts were made by many researchers to study ICT influence on youth, youth education, college students, etc. Objective of the study The main objective of this study is to understand the association of ICT with health of professional students. Research methodology A sum of 348 professional students consisting of 144 males and 204 female were randomly selected as representative sample from a reputed university in Gujarat, India. Participants were students of professional stream.
The professional category includes department of – management, medical, physiotherapy, pharmacy and dental colleges of university. Simple random sampling technique is used in this survey. In this method, sampling units are selected randomly from a list of population so that every individual has an equal chance of selection. The sample size is 348. Structured questionnaire by the researcher was used as a research tool for collecting primary data. Along with questionnaire, observations and discussions were done with respondents to understand their deep thinking about the topic. Review of Literature
The literature review presents a brief survey of the materials that have been referred for this study. The bibliography focuses on materials from 2000 – 2009, from a range of sources and perspectives. These include various studies, research reports, review articles, papers and journals focussing on ICT and public health. We also consulted web sites, web logs and online journals on the same. Among college students may be a vicious, unhealthy cycle of behaviour. Young adults entering into college are faced with new challenges as well as the freedom to approach these challenges with relative carte blanche.
Often times, students turn to ICT as a means to cope with a variety of stressors for a variety of reasons. ICT can be very convenient and it can provide the opportunity to keep in contact with a large network of people, however it can also become the preferred form of communication for some. This preference for non-personal communication may contribute to a deficiency in personal communication skills. In addition, high use of ICT can become a major intrusion upon everyday life. These intrusions can drastically increase one’s perceived stress, causing some to seek solace in social support. Massimini, M. & Peterson, M. (2009) Psychological distress is related to maladaptive use of both the Internet and the mobile phone; females scored higher than males on the mobile phone questionnaire, showing more negative consequences of its maladaptive use. With respect to major study, students of Journalism and Broadcasting showed a more maladaptive pattern of Internet use than students of other majors. The components of Perceived Emotional Intelligence contributed to the explanation of the variance of the general indicators of psychological distress, but to a lesser degree than maladaptive use of Internet and mobile phone.
Marta Beranuy, Ursula Oberst, Xavier Carbonell and Ander Chamarro (2009) Technology use patterns have the social impacts of technology on well-being among college students. This study provides empirical evidence delineating the processes through which Internet use affects well-being among college students. The author provides suggestions for ways to advance future studies in this area and for higher education faculty and staff as they work with technologically savvy students. Shelia R.
Cotton (2009) Popularity of internet has created a stir in the mental health community as clinicians are blaming the internet for causing depression and loneliness. The aim of the author’s essay is to investigate the researches dealing with the linkage and assess whether the link between depression and internet use is a myth or a reality. Patrick Kierkegaard (2008) Young adults’ experience two sides of IT use. Those two sides are of being social, efficient and independent. They described almost unlimited opportunities in connection with IT, but they also had misgivings, and perceived risks regarding IT use.
Feelings of freedom and being efficient were countered by feelings of restrictions on living space and of intangibility. Knowledge concerning these attitudes, coherence and health beliefs can be considered when designing epidemiological and ergonomic studies aimed at risk identification. Ewa Gustafsson, Lotta Dellve, Maria Edlund and Mats Hagberg. (2003). Research methodology A sum of 348 professional students consisting of 144 males and 204 female were randomly selected as representative sample from a reputed university in Gujarat, India. Participants were students of professional stream.
The professional category includes department of – management, medical, physiotherapy, pharmacy and dental colleges of university. Simple random sampling technique is used in this survey. In this method, sampling units are selected randomly from a list of population so that every individual has an equal chance of selection. The sample size is 348. Structured questionnaire by the researcher was used as a research tool for collecting primary data. Along with questionnaire, observations and discussions were done with respondents to understand their deep thinking about the topic.
Variables under study After the much of brain storming i undertook total 15 variables for studying the awareness regarding ICT usage in professional studies and also the impact on health. These variables are: -Demographics of the Sample -Usage pattern of ICT oForm of ICT oPurpose of use oHours of usage oTime of usage oReason of usage oPrompting factor of usage -Mental Health Factors -Physical Health Factors -Awareness Factors -Dependence and Addiction of ICT -Features of Addiction -Association of ICT with depression -Relation of ICT with anxiety Results and Discussions
The study shows significant influence of ICT on health of students of professional education. The study is divided in to some critical sets of factors. Each set of factors have some relation to the health parameter. It is done so as to understand the physical, mental and social health factors have an impact on the professional students in their usability of ICT tools for education. In this study parameters like ‘less than 6 times and more than 6 times’ have been used, which indicates that if the factor is affecting more than 6 times is only considered significant. Demographics
Table 1 shows the demographics in terms of gender, study profession of students, and age. 98. 8% students are from 18 to 25 Age Group. Table 2 indicates usage pattern of ICT among professional students. It was found that the most used ICT in education is laptop/computer and mobile phones. Table 3 shows that 67. 2% students are connected to the ICT for about 24 hours. The late night usage is the highest among them. The reason of the ICT use is highly done for personal and academic use. The factor which prompts them for maximum use of ICT is for social networking and emergency or health related factors.
Emergency factor prompts them to use mobile phones. Table 1 Gender N% Male14441. 3 Female20459. 7 Study Profession Management5515. 8 Pharmacy5515. 8 Physiotherapy8925. 5 Nursing 5716. 3 Dental 6618. 9 Medical267. 47 Age 18 to 2534498. 8 26 to 35041. 2 Usage Pattern It was found by observation that laptop was among one of the gadgets which they carry with them like apparels. On asking informally, laptops give them style, status and a quick access to outdoor world. Usage pattern shows that laptops and mobile phones were used for report making and search information on internet. Table 3 shows that 67. % students stay connected to ICT 24 hours. Table 2 Which form of ICT you use the most in education? N% Computer/Laptop10330. 0 Mobile Phones10028. 7 Television4512. 9 Radio2306. 6 DVDs100. 3 CDs200. 5 Zip Disks000. 0 portable hard drives/pen drives7120. 5 floppy disks000. 0 digital camera200. 5 web cam100. 3 Scanner000. 0 Voice recorder000. 0 Microphone000. 0 For what purpose would you like to use ICT in education? Write reports for project work32292. 5 search for information on the Web or Internet24570. 4 play games7421. 2 make drawings or designs6318. 1 store information in a database1103. search for information in a database902. 5 draw charts or graphs7320. 9 search for information on a CD- ROM1303. 7 create multimedia presentations15644. 8 make a newsletter or newspaper page3710. 6 make animations2306. 6 send email to other people9427. 0 do my own programming2306. 6 send email to students in other institute/colleges12235. 0 display or send digital photographs1203. 4 add information to college Web site3409. 7 work a device (sensor) to capture data to feed into the computer5315. 2 link up to a music keyboard1704. 8 link to a webcam to see and to speak with other people2406. video-conferences 7421. 2 * Number of responses to each question differs due to item non response and selecting >1 answer to the same question. Table 3 Hours of usageN% 24 hours23467. 2 8 to 23 hours9025. 8 1 to 8 hours2407. 0 Time of usage Early morning902. 5 Late morning1002. 8 Afternoon2005. 7 Evening8925. 5 Night10931. 3 Late night11131. 8 Reason of usage Personal 14541. 6 Official 4212. 0 Academic13237. 9 Business 501. 4 Festive 2406. 8 Prompting factor of usage Clicking Images7822. 4 Job Alerts3510. 0 Social / Professional Networking8725. 0 Accidental / Emergency / Health Care9226. Messaging5616. 0 Mental health Factors affecting mental health of students due to their ICT use show that average 55. 6% effect is positive. More than 50% of the students feel mental pressure from ICT use. According to many students “Mental Stress was obvious because there is increased use of ICT in education as well as in our personal lives, but we know the side effects of being connected to technology. Hence we try to avoid it as much as we can in holidays or when with family”. Table 4 FACTORS N YES%N NO% Do you get irritated by use of ICT while studying? 995714943 Do you find ICT as hindrance while studying? 1564519255 Do you switch off your mobile phone or turn it to silent mode while studying? 1915515745 Do you feel mentally stressed when at the time of studying you remember that you have forgotten to reply back to your friend? 1394020960 In emergency situation if your mobile do not work, do you feel stressed? 281816719 Average of all factors 55. 644. 4 Physical health factors Physical health factors indicate body pains, accidents, etc. it was found that 77% students has no significant physical health problems.
ICT has made an impact on the young students but these educated students know how to manage it. Table 5 FACTORS N YES%N NO% Have you felt like headache, ear problem, or muscular pain after the use of ICT? 1564519255 Do you think it is appropriate to use mobile phone while driving? 591728983 Have you met with an accident any time while talking on phone? 24732493 Average of all factors2377 Awareness factors Students of professional education are very well aware about the dark facts of ICT. 69. 5% of students are aware that due to ICT there are chances of health problems like heart attacks, body ache, etc.
Table 6 FACTORSN YES%N NO% Are you aware that continuous use of ICT is likely to cause severe health related problems? 2406910831 Are you aware that keeping mobile phone in shirt’s pocket causes heart attack? 2156213338 Average of all factors 65. 534. 5 Dependence and Addiction factors Table 7 and Table 8 depict the factors related to dependence and addition of ICT. Factors in the table show clear level of addiction among the students. In this world of high-tech environment, it is their necessity to take the advantage of ICT developments which imparts them qualitative professional growth. Table 7 FACTORSN
YES%N NO% Do you seek privacy while using ICT2477110129 If yes, then Consciously264768424 Unconsciously842426476 While using ICT, have you ignored some close friends or relatives against your conscious? 1805216848 Do you fear that ICT / data contained in it may be lost? 257749126 Do you feel that it is essential and indispensable? 281816719 Average of all factors 69. 530. 5 Table 8 Features of addition In last 2 years – N% How many times it has happened that if you don’t use ICT for 2 days you feel uncomfortable? Less than 6 times 25774 More than 6 times 9126 Whether the frequency of using ICT has increased?
Yes28883 No6017 If your mobile/PC/laptop had gone wrong, how quickly have you got it replaced/repaired? Immediately24771 When I get time7321 I don care287 Do you feel prohibiting the use of ICT during working hours is a punishment? Yes14040 No20860 What percentage of your expenditure is for ICT? 0 – 10 %278 11 to 50 %10029 More than 50 %22163 Have you ever borrowed (against your wish) money for use of ICT – may be repair, replacement, etc? Yes8324 No26576 (More than 6 times – indicates higher significance of the factor. Less than 6 times – indicates the other side. ) Association of ICT with depression
One very interesting fact was found in this study through observation and informal conversations other than questionnaire was that, students of every professional programme was addicted to ICT, but they knowing this fact they take other precautions along with the use of ICT. Table shows that there is not significant influence regarding depression. Everything is balanced. Students take care of their health in the fluctuating environment of studies and ICT. Table 9 In last 2 years – N% How many times you have the feelings of worthlessness or low self esteem? Less than 6 times 30688 More than 6 times 4212
Have you gained weight? Yes 18152 No16748 Whether eating habit have changed? Yes 19857 No15043 Whether pending works are increasing? Yes 20860 No14040 Do you feel that whatever you are doing these days are worthless? Yes 12536 No22364 Whether the suicidal tendency in you increasing? Yes5917 No28983 Whether there is a reduction in the hours of everyday sleep? Yes22264 No12636 Relation of ICT with anxiety Factors indicating relation of ICT with anxiety is mapped in two parts namely ‘less than six time’ and ‘more than six times’. More than six times – indicates significance of the factor.
Less than six times shows that it is the normal condition and there is not much significant influence of the factor on health. The study shows that 41. 25 % of the students feel anxiety in them due to ICT usage. Table 10 FACTORS In last 2 years – N % Whether you have suffered restlessness, palpitation, early morning wakefulness? Less than 6 times 22263 More than 6 times 12637 Whether you are feeling agitated and frustrated? Less than 6 times 20157 More than 6 times 14743 Are you getting suddenly angry and loss of control? Less than 6 times 19456 More than 6 times 15444 Have you engaged in physical / mental fights?
Less than 6 times 20559 More than 6 times 14341 Limitations This study is limited to only one university of Gujarat. Results may be different with other population. The study utilised a simple random sample that was comprised of 348 participants of the university, which limits its application to other populations. Addition to these limitations, time factor also comes in to mind. Conclusions and Future Research The findings of this study say that usage of ICT among professional students has significant influence on their overall health, sleeping behaviours, eating habits, and anxiety.
There is a strong presence of ICT addiction. Students are very much dependent on ICT for their growth in professional education. Findings show some interesting facts. Even though these side effects majority of them are aware of the health behaviours through use of ICT. Despite these findings, the study also found that 84. 7% of the sample agreed that they are too much addicted to ICT and can’t imagine their life without ICT. This is a very important result to consider. Future research should focus on level of ICT intrusiveness on health of professional students.
In addition, research should take each profession separately and measure the level and intensity of ICT impact on the particular professional student.