Internet Use in light of the Uses and Gratifications Theory

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PBS Frontline Documentary: “Growing Up Online” Uses and Gratifications (Katz and Blumler) The documentary first presents to us a barrage of reasons why teenagers are supposedly hooked to the internet, and the activities in line with the use of this medium – this is an illustration of one of the basic premises of Katz and Blumler’s Uses and Gratifications Theory: that the audience actively chooses a particular medium for certain reasons and to achieve certain goals. This highlights the fact that the audience is a discriminating user instead of being a passive recipient of media. Every teenager or group of teenagers have their own reasons for using the internet, it may either be to play a game with friends or make friends through online games themselves, get in the know with the hottest hits or even take a peek into another individual’s life through his/her homepage. This shows how events and conditions in the world influence media use. The internet is shown as an outlet for self expression, an avenue for communication and a source of entertainment free from control that can be imposed by authority figures like parents. This is also one of the reasons for medium choice for gratification need. Mobile phones as second preference of medium when internet access is unavailable, shows one of the theory’s basic assumptions, how the medium competes with other avenues, like other forms of media, for gratification. On one level, the internet is employed for Information-seeking to be quickly met by accessing sites such as Sparknotes which makes studying much easier considering teenager’s lifestyles and other factors like time constraints. Almost everything needed, like things regarding matters such as suicide or even maintaining eating disorders, are easily available online. On another level, the exchange of information shows how individuals use medium identify

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