Pew Internet & American Life Project, who continue to examine use of the internet in detail, suggest that younger generations focus on the internet as a means of communication and that use amongst older age groups is increasing – but that this group are more concerned by functional uses. (Generations Online in 2010) However, it is important to remember that the picture is a complex one, and that this research is limited to the USA – nevertheless, it does underline the need to ensure we understand what the internet is being used for when researching addiction.
As has always been the case, it doesn’t matter to most teenagers how they are communicating with peers so long as they are able to do so. As one student points out when discussing use of the internet in The Internet Generation Prefers the Real World (Dworschak, 2010) ‘Sometimes it acts as a telephone, sometimes as a kind of souped-up television’. It is just a medium to be used. Manfred Dworschak goes on to say in the same article: ‘Young people have now reached this turning point. The internet is no longer something they are willing to waste time thinking about. It seems that the excitement about cyberspace was a phenomenon peculiar to their predecessors, the technology-obsessed first generation of Web users’.