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Title: A conceptualisation of 'psychological access to the Internet' : adolescents, gender and attitudes
Author: Sunley, Tracey Ann
ISNI:       0000 0001 3491 2209
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis describes the conceptualisation of a construct proposed here as Psychological Access to the Internet and presents the development and testing of an instrument to measure the construct amongst adolescent children in informal voluntary contexts at home and school. The rapid growth and permeation of ICT across UK society, particularly in education, has raised the question of whether previous gender inequities observed in relation to computers will transfer onto new media such as the Internet. This inequity has serious implications for individuals' full social, educational and professional participation. In order to conceptualise the construct fully, exploratory and investigative survey (n= 1 09) studies, followed by an interview study (n=30), researched and identified attributes theorised as contributing toward the overall construct. This was followed by a survey of 729 adolescent children, in which an instrument grounded in the previous studies was tested. The relationship of gender, Internet experience and context of use was examined with regard to measurement of psychological access to the Internet. Examination of the psychometric properties of the instrument established that it successfully demonstrated discriminative validity. Factor analysis identified convergent validity for scale items across three dimensions, suggesting three discrete subscales: Internet Confidence, Personal Relevance of the Internet, and Internet Friendship. A second-order factor analysis found one underlying factor, establishing that the instrument was measuring a global construct, investigated and defined by this thesis as psychological access to the Internet. The findings of the research carried out for this thesis show that gender, experience and context of use are important variables in the measurement of psychological access to the Internet. The continuing relevance of this thesis in light of educational policy in the UK is put forward.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral