This study presents the findings of a quantitative research study on the use of Internet by 13-16-years-old in Malta and Gozo that focused on gauging online and offline routines, evidence of problematic Internet use, and the use of Internet by 13-16-years-old in Malta and Gozo in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
This study formed part of the broader Logging Off 2022-2023 initiative commissioned and funded by Fundación MAPFRE. Data collection took place between April and June 2023, using a quantitative questionnaire. A total of 245 youths of ages 13 to 16 years participated in this study which was carried out by sociologist Dr Maria Brown, on behalf of Fundación MAPFRE, a non-pro t foundation, founded in Spain in 1975.. Fundación MAPFRE does not have commercial interests. Its goal is to contribute to the welfare of citizens and society. More information about Fundación MAPFRE can be accessed here: https://www.fundacionmapfre.org
Most respondents admitted to spending more time online than planned on a regular basis, and that being online makes them forget to do things they need to do. Around two thirds of the respondents stated they always, often, or sometimes become irritable, nervous, or in a bad mood when they must stop time online.
A very small minority strongly agreed to assessing their online communication skills as better than their in-person communication skills. However, less than half of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with assessing their online communication skills as better than their in-person communication skills.
The largest share of responses (one third) expressed neutral views about this. Compared to when COVID-19 restrictions were in place, most respondents stated their time online decreased. However, more than one-third stated it remained the same or that it increased.
The study showed these are generalised experiences among 13-16-years old participating in this study, because further testing revealed no significant difference between respondents of different genders, age cohorts, hailing from different regions and household settings, and attending different types of schools.
The largest share of responses flagged an increase of time online at the time of this study compared to time online in pre-pandemic times. Notably, further scrutiny revealed such increase prevailed among females in a statistically significant manner. Additionally, among those who tried reducing time online but did not manage, females were more prevalent. Notwithstanding, the study yielded some evidence of logging off routines within the cohort under study; Indeed, logging off emerged as being more part of the routine of 13-16-yearsold living with more than one adult, particularly when other siblings are involved. Living with two guardians and siblings also impacted disagreement with preferring online communication to in-person communication in a statistically significant manner.
The full study can be viewed on https://www.mapfre.com.mt/health-promotion/