Self Assessment Tool For Measuring Internet Anxiety Psychology Essay

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We created a self-assessment tool to measure level of Internet anxiety, specifically by engaging smaller number of users. This study is an early indication of the feasibility of whether anxiety on the Internet could be measured. We have developed a process and procedures, which yielded a set of questions from the users using a qualitative research methodology. The first set of results consists of thirty-five useful questions to measure anxiety of human on the Internet and the second set of result suggests score-sheet of medium level of anxiety among participants. Our finding suggests that this self-assessment tool could provide suitable measure of level of anxiety for those selected users who are constantly on the Internet.

In our everyday life, we need varieties of information from various sources. Some of these sources in our age are social networking websites, news, blogs, and wikis. In this present era, knowingly or unknowingly, we consume lots of information from these sources. We try to create, read, and write using these popular tools. Most of times, it is not an easy task for us to distinguish, good from bad, and bad from ugly. On one hand, we are happy and we may feel alive when we are â€-connected' in the â€-age of Internet' and on the other hand, we may be unaware of our own personal actions or behaviour. Sometimes, our behaviour on the Internet is likely to cause anxiety and stress of using contents on the Internet. The cause of such phenomenon may be because of numerous sources and contents one uses. Some cause may lead to psychological problems, mental illness, and anxiety. It is apparent that we are the victims of different types of information that we are using. Jenny Preece, in her book entitled, Human Computer Interaction suggests that HCI has several key factors. Some of these factors are health and safety. These factors play greater role in our daily habit of using the contents on the Internet. Based on the informal observation, we could say that the normal task of â€-sharing', â€-tweeting', â€-posting' contents on the Internet could be fun. On the contrary, many times the social networking experience may also be â€-socialNOTworking' experience. Therefore, to measure if users feel anxiety of using contents on the Internet, we devised set of questionnaires and presented them to users.

In this paper, we firstly provide some background to our study. Secondly, we describe our study goal-to measure anxiety of user on the Internet and provide user with a score-sheet. Thirdly, we have raised research question, which we have solved with qualitative research methods. We fourthly then describe our methods and procedures via a self-assessment measurement tool. Finally, we conclude with a brief discussion of future work.


Charles Darwin and Freud first formulated the ideas of emotional state and anxiety on human beings. Since then for centuries, researchers and practioners in the field of clinical psychology and psychoanalytic literature have been working on finding effective measures for human anxiety. As many researchers have identified it, anxiety is a very complex phenomenon to explore [12]. The lack of appropriate measuring instruments and various moral or ethical problems associated with measuring human anxiety have made Internet anxiety a more complicated phenomenon. Taking pedestal of our work towards mere simplicity, we have categorized human behaviour on the Internet based on Behavioural (e.g. addiction, avoidance), Physical (e.g. headache, nausea), Cultural (e.g. Asian, Western), Cognitive (e.g. lack of focus, attention, and concentration), Psychological (e.g. attitude, beliefs), Emotional (e.g. fear, frustration, anxiety) and Anxiety (e.g. General anxiety, Internet anxiety). The Figure 1 depicts a user influenced by the above factors.

Figure 1: A user on the Internet experiencing different factors.

Wide varieties of questionnaires, rating scales and laboratory tests are used to measure anxiety. There are some popular measurement techniques. The well-known anxiety measuring techniques include Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) [1], Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) [3], Generalized Anxiety Disorder Severity Scale (GADSS) [4], Penn State Worry Questionnaires (PSWQ) [5] and Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A) [7]. The short summary table of these popular measurement techniques of general anxiety is shown in the Table 1 (See in the end of paper).

In our perspective, these existing measuring techniques suffer from two shortcomings. Firstly, they rarely consider Internet anxiety measurement and neither of these tools focus on the Internet. Secondly, these are very general anxiety measuring tools which were developed a long time ago especially for general users. Therefore, these shortcomings contributed to the paucity of this research.


Based on the rationale of our study, following research question and hypothesis was constructed:

RQ1: How much anxiety do you have on the Internet?

H1: Users have some level of anxiety on the Internet.


Our goal was to create questions and measure level of anxiety of a user. For this, we created a simple process. With the help of users, we created thirty-five questions. First, we divided these users into three different sets. In the first and second set, we had two users in each set. In the final set, we had three users. The procedure developed to generate questions is self-explanatory which is shown in Figure 3.We recruited users and then asked them general questions on Internet anxiety. We then validated those questions with same groups of users. Finally, we provided them with a score-sheet.

Figure 2: The process and procedure that was used to create questions with users.

The first task in study is to hire selected group of users. We then conducted interviews with these users. We asked questions based on Internet anxiety and recorded their data by note taking mechanism. The appropriate questions were developed through iterative mechanism. The final question was only selected after it was found suitable enough. Finally, we came up with questions that were used to measure Internet anxiety. We conducted a preliminarily study using above process and procedure and then selected thirty-five questions from the discussion with the users. During a thorough discussion with users, majority of these questions were raised. The Internet anxiety measuring self-assessment tool was developed by above process and procedure. We asked all the seven participants to answer these questions in two weeks time. Based on thirty-five questions, we formulated a score-sheet. There were two attributes pertaining to each question i.e. true and false. We presumed that the total number of ―trueâ€- responses provide the level of Internet anxiety. Our score sheet looked exactly like this:

A score of five or below suggested low anxiety.

A score of 10 or 15 suggested medium anxiety.

A score above 20 indicated high anxiety.


The research was conducted among seven participants. Our participants were researchers, students, and colleagues from the Department of Information Technology in (Blinded) University of Technology. These participants were (five male, 2 female). The selected participants were familiar both technically and in general with the Internet. It can be seen from the Table 2, that total number of population (n=7) and standard deviation (2.058), population variance (3.63) and population standard deviation is relatively very low (1.906) which indicates that the age of the participants is very close to the mean age.

Table 2: The sample standard deviation, sample size, population variance, population standard deviation, sample variance, and mean are shown in the table below:

Sample Standard Deviation

Sample Size

Population Variance

Population Standard Deviation

Sample Variance

Mean Age








There were two sets of results obtained from this work. The first set of results was the formulation of thirty-five questions. In our first set of result, we developed thirty-five questions that we believe as a significant contribution to HCI. The questions in three separate blocks for the purpose of this discussion are shown below:

With the first set of users, we asked them questions such as ―Do you feel lost in hyperspace?â€- One user said, ―Sometimes, I feel lost while browsing...â€- then we formulated Q1. Similarly, we asked them, would you worry if you have to take anxiety test? Another user said, ―Yes, I may worry to some extent.â€- Likewise, one user reported that she usually hangs out in social networking applications, which yielded Q6. With the second set of users, we asked them questions: Do you feel worried after browsing is over? One user said, ―She never worries.â€- We then formulated Q15. Similarly, One user said, ―I really don't see why some people get so upset about browsing on the Internetâ€- which is in Q22.

With the third set of users, we asked them questions such as Does your hands or legs tremble while browsing contents on the Internet. A user said, ―Sometimes, it happens…â€- We then formulated Q26. While discussion, one user said, ―He uses contents on the Internet everydayâ€- which was changed to, ―I extensively use abusive contents on the Internet.â€- Similarly, one user reported, ―She worries a great deal if there is no Internet connectionâ€- and we then formulated Q30. Likewise, the other questions were formulated.

Our second set of results was a score-sheet of the seven participants. The results from a score-sheet showed that majority of the participants had medium level of anxiety whereas one participant had low anxiety and two participants had high anxiety. This is clearly shown in the Table 3 below. From the table 3, we could also see that a user with ID 1 is having low anxiety whereas user with ID 3 is having high anxiety. A user with low anxiety said, ―I know exactly what I am doing on the Internet and I don't see it as fearful or depressing thing, I have total control over my behaviour on the Internet. On the other hand, a user with ID 3 possessed high anxiety said, ―I am fearful, depressed and frustrated when the Internet connection is not working, or due to unnecessary pop-ups and advertisements.â€- We used the Kuder-Richardson 21 formula (See formula 1) for calculating reliability of self-assessment tool because it is easy to compute and measures reliability of items of â€-true/false' nature. The result illustrates a conservative estimate of the test's reliability. The reliability measured was high (0.79) which indicates that the self-assessment tool is viable. The higher reliability score also indicates higher internal consistency of items tested. In other words, it indicates stronger relationship between items, which assesses anxiety. The formula is

KR-21 = n/n-1[1-{(X-X2/n)/S2}] (1)


â€-n' is the number of test items,

â€-X' is the average score,

And, â€-S' the standard deviation

Table 3: Score-sheet obtained from the users.


































Average Score

Standard Deviation






To our utmost surprise, majority of the participants showed medium level of anxiety. The reason of our surprise was simply that we were not expecting our group of participants with technical expertise to possess Internet anxiety.


In this paper, we described how we formulated self-assessment tool for measuring human anxiety on the Internet. . We believe that this self-assessment tool is a very significant contribution to HCI to measure user's Internet anxiety level. Furthermore, we have measured the user's anxiety level on the Internet using thirty-five questions. The result suggests that Internet anxiety could be a significant problem that needs further investigation. We believe that this is a valid self-assessment tool for measuring anxiety of users on the Internet, which needs to be validated more with larger number of users. There are few limitations of this work. The first limitation is selection of participants where all the participants were students, a self-report of Internet anxiety may not be the best validation for the scale. An expert third-party observer might provide a more objective score. Nevertheless, a larger sample and more diverse sample should be used in near future. The second limitation is the validity of the results with the same participants. Thus, in near future, we are planning to engage more participants e.g. utilizing this self-assessment tool in Facebook application or by conducting survey.