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The positive impact of Internet on the cognitive, psychological

and social side of peoples personality with disabilities

Dr. Athanasios Drigas, National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) Demokritos, Institute of
Informatics and Telecommunications, Telecoms Lab - Net Media Lab, Athens, Greece

Taxiarchis Vouglanis, National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) Demokritos, Institute of
Informatics and Telecommunications, Telecoms Lab - Net Media Lab, Athens, Greece

Abstract
The purpose of the present study was to indicate the positive effects of internet in the personality of the
person with disabilities. Through literature review was found that internet improves the cognitive
(reading, writing, internets use), social (cooperation, friendship) and psychological skills (anxiety,
stress, self esteem). In conclusion, internet, computers technology and e-learning are creating multiple
effects in all aspects of peoples personality with disabilities.

Key words: access, equality, diversity, technology, people with special needs

Introduction independence of person with disabilities in the


In todays society the rapid transmission current social and economic reality, while one
of knowledge and information, interculturalism of the advantages of e-learning method is the
and multiculturalism, coexistence and independence that provides for its user with a
integration of people with disabilities in direct consequence of increase its self-
everyday lifes requirements is necessary confidence (Mikolajewska & Mikolajewski,
(Foley & Ferri, 2012). According to Domingo 2011).
(2012), 15% of the population in all over the In the society of equality, accessibility
world is facing some kind of disability in any and services providing in all people
aspect of his personality (cognitive, physical, irrespective discrimination, the term diversity
social and emotional), while according to indicates the power of discovery, equality and
Mikolajewska & Mikolajewski (2011), the social inclusion (Barton, 1996, p. 14). More
number of people requiring special training recently, the term Digital Diversity has been
and experiencing some disability in areas of used to explain the diversity of equal access to
their personality amounting to 650 million science technology and information of the
worldwide. social levels of societys structure (World
Isolation and social exclusion of people Wide Words, 1996).
with disabilities, leading to provide limited In 1999, the World Wide Web
opportunities and the presence of high risk of Consortium issued guidelines for easy
inferiority (Brown, Belz, Corsi, & Wenig, internets access for the whole population, with
1993; Guess & Siegel-Causey, 1985). The a particular reference to facilitating access for
report of UNESCO (2013) emphasizes and people with disabilities and more specific to
stresses that people with disabilities are facing visual impaired (World Wide Web
difficulties and increased risk from being Consortium, 1999).
excluded from opportunities in education, According to Zisimopoulos, Sigafoos and
working environment and information- Koutromanos (2011), one of the advantages of
communication in all the sectors of society. computers technology and internets use for
Nowadays, science technology, people with disabilities is the increase of
computers, internet and e-learning, give independence and support in their own
several possibilities for positive change in abilities. Indeed, according to Mikoajewska
knowledge, access services, communication, and Mikoajewski (2011), especially in the
social skills and the right to work of people sector of education access of people with
with disabilities (Arrigo, 2005; Chadwick, disabilities in educational context websites has
Wesson, & Fullwood, 2013; Peterson-Karlan been improved significantly.
& Parette, 2005; Ritchie & Blank, 2003). The number of people employed or
According to Domingo (2012), internet working in their free time with internet has
and services are being provided, increase increased dramatically (Leisner et al., 2002).
Indeed, compared with the past, internets and found to increase the ability of detecting
computers use led to improvement of those information and knowledge in students with
skills that were very difficult of impossible to hearing problems (Creqq,Wozar, Wessel, &
be performed by people with disabilities Epstein, 2002). These researchers, using as a
(Fichten et al., 2009). For example, as such sample students with hearing problems, aged
skills referred to communication between deaf 15-17 years old, they found that a period of
people through chat rooms, the use of upper exercise 90 minutes duration improved deaf
and lower extremities from people with students ability to identify information on
physical disabilities (Fichten, Asuncion, health related issues on the internet.
Barile, Fossey, & De Simone, 2000). Apart from the informations detection
ability, web browsing and the ability to use
internet has been found that can improve
Purpose reading ability to people with learning
To identify the positive effects of internet disabilities. Specifically, Englert, Zha,
use and e-learning method on the cognitive, Dunsmore, Collins and Wolbers (2007), in a
psychological and social side of peoples survey in USA, to a sample of 35 students aged
personality with disabilities. 10 years old, from 5 selected primary schools
in the region, examined the effect of using
graphic skills pages to students ability of
Methodology writing. They found that students in the
Literature review and compilation of experimental group, through their exercise in
research articles from databases such as: the computer program writing skills, improved
Google Scholar, PubMed and Google. their ability in writing as to the quality
(reduction of grammar and spelling errors) and
as to the amount of text writing.
Literature Review Practice in web browsing increases the
Cognitive ability to browse and search information but
Regarding internets impact on cognitive also and the general internets usage by the
part of peoples personality with disabilities, person. Specifically, in a sample of three (3)
the majority of surveys showing positive students with moderate mental retardation
effects in a number of cognitive abilities and from two elementary schools in Greece,
skills such as: linguistic, writing, reading and investigated the effect of videos usage in
informations detection. access to internet and searching and
Specifically, Raghavendra, Newman, downloading photos related to History lesson.
Grace, and Wood (2015), in their survey in It was found that the technique of learning
Australia, investigated the effect of social (instructions) through video in web browsing
medias use in cognitive development of increases the information detection ability in
personality. Studys sample consisted of eight those persons (Zisimopoulos, Sigafoos, &
(8) persons with a mean age of 15 years old. Koutromanos, 2011).
Results of the present study showed that social The use of electronic devices for the
medias use improved positively linguistic improvement of the cognitive skills of persons
ability and the ability of reading. with disabilities does not always lead to
In 2013, Bolic et al., with a sample of 102 positive entirely results. A survey from Fichten
people with hyperactivity syndrome, showed et al (2009), in a sample of 223 students with
that internets use improved peoples autism in Canada, examined through
educational activities. questionnaires students knowledge to the
The way to find websites and internets following parameters: access to web pages,
browsing has positive effects on the cognitive learning through e-learning method, use of
abilities of the persons ability to use internet. power point, uploading and downloading files.
This was examined in a survey in 2012 by Results showed a little positive effect of
Heiman and Shemesh. Using a sample of 964 internet and learning through e-learning
students with learning disabilities they found method, due to the fact that at the 67% of the
that students who had frequent contact with sample of the present survey one (1) of at least
internet improved their performance on their three (3) e-learnings problems remained
knowledge of internets use in skills such as: unresolved.
finding and entrance on websites, furthermore In a review of the literature, Hasselbring
entrancing and creating messages in areas of and Glasser (2000) indicate that practice in
social media. learning skills through computer such as
Web browsing and knowledge of using practice in writing environment (word),
and finding information through it, has been communication, searching in internet and
production of electronic material has positive positive results in psychological indicators of
effect on more than three (3) million students peoples personality with disabilities, due to
with learning and mental disabilities. The the improvement of self-confidence through
immediate effect of this positive impact of the independence and interaction and coexistence
learning environment via a PC is the active that is provided (Mikolajewska &
participation of students in the learning Mikolajewski, 2011).
environment according to these researchers. In a review of the literature (collecting
The positive impact of computers data from 697 articles in the period from 1987
technology on cognitive skills of people with to 2012), Chadwick, Wesson and Fullwood
disabilities was also emphasized by Lindstrom (2013) showed that internets and computers
and Hemminqsson (2014). In a comprehensive technology usage improves positively
review of the literature of the period 2000- psychological dimensions of peoples
2012 in data of 32 articles (16 of these were personality with disabilities like: self-
experimental researches), they found that expression, sense of security, self-provision
cognitive skills of person with disabilities, and the reduction of inferiority.
such as writing, reading and communication One important parameter of persons
improved significantly due to their practice in psychology is the ability of self-determination
a learning environment via a PC. and its connection with everyday lifes needs
Access to internet and its use, depends on and the general sense of satisfaction and
the environment of the web site and the easy emotional wellness. Indeed, it has been found
and difficulty elements that it is being that self-determination and persons ability to
enriched. This was examined in relation to define and control its acts is an important
bind people, where it was found that an parameter for satisfaction and emotional well
appropriately configured environment browser being in adulthood, especially for people with
on the World Wide Web facilitates the disabilities due to skills complexity have
handling knowledge of blind people, but not to reduced opportunities to control and the way of
people with low capacity vision (Foley, 2011). learning and their life (Whemeyer & Schalock,
However, practicing in learning 2003). In people with disabilities, self-
environment via a PC does not necessarily determination plays an important role in the
leads to improvement in all cognitive skills. successful outcome of their daily activities
This was examined in the survey of Hollins (Lachapelle et al., 2005).
and Foley (2011), who in as sample 16 A positive relationship between internets
students with learning disabilities, found that use and self-determination has been found by
skills such as locating receivers e-mail researchers in USA. Specifically, Cook et al.
address, locating a survey in internet while (2005), in a sample of 911 persons with
locating a book in internet for writing research psychiatric difficulties and disabilities,
were not all of them improved due to investigated the effects of internets use in the
electronic environments use. ability of their self-determination. Results
Tablets use seems that leads to an showed a positive relationship between the
improvement of the cognitive skills of person frequency of internets use and self-
with disabilities. In a survey in Kenya, to a determination of the sample of the present
sample of students with visual impairments, a study, furthermore less negative attitude
positive impact of tablets technology to those toward internet generally.
persons abilities related to education and Electronic learning environment (e-
practice skills was found (Foley & Masingila, learning) leads to a decrease in psychological
2014). indicators of peoples personality with
Practise via a PC leads to an disabilities. According to Bjecik, Obradovic
improvement of knowledge and understanding and Vucetic (2012), in an electronic learning
related issues with autism. In the survey of environment persons anxiety and stress is
Gillespie-Lynch et al (2016), to a sample of reduced, due to the asynchronous
365 persons with autism, it was found that communication (e-mail) and the option to
through their training in a real electronic communicate with teacher or the rest of the
environment improved their understanding and class.
knowledge of the issues associated with
autism.
Social Part
One of the main advantages of internets
Psychological Part use (social networks e.g. Twitter, Facebook)
Computers use, internet and involvement and PCs, is and their positive effect on
in electronic learning environment, showing persons independence and social interaction
(Hemsley, Dann, Palmer, Allan, & Balandin, instruments of social networking sites and
2015; Kaye, 2000). According to Peterson- mainstream technology (ipad).
Karlan and Parette (2005), computers A frequently and growing instrument of
technology offers many perspectives and social networking nowadays, is Twitter. A
positive elements in the social field and social survey in Australia by Hemsley, Dann, Palmer,
abilities of persons with disabilities. Allan and Balandin (2015) to a sample of 5
Teachers and direct family people with problems in social skills showed
environments expectations (parents) of people that the sample of the study indicated positive
with disabilities, about the effect of internets experiences, impressions and improvements in
use in the social side of these people, have their everyday social skills due to this social
been examined in a survey in Sweden. In network medias use.
particular, Molin, Sorbrinq and Lofgren- According to Domingo (2012), one of the
Martenson, (2015), in a sample of 8 teachers advantages of internet and the services it
and 5 parents of persons with mental provides is the support and improvement of
disabilities, found that the parents of those those social skills which are necessary for
persons had a positive opinion that internets integration and successful participation of
and social networking sites use are ways for people with disabilities in everyday lifes and
people with mental disability to overcome their societys needs and therefore for the
and to increase their interaction with other improvement of their quality of life.
persons in their social surroundings. According to Foley and Ferri (2012),
Conflicting results about the effects of social networking sites gives access to people
internets use on the social side of peoples with disabilities and provide a service to the
personality with disabilities were found by social side of their personality. The provision
Cheatham (2012). In particular, through and service of these instruments should be seen
literature review (sample of 6 selected articles) as a global, innovative and considered in light
to a sample of people with mobility problems of the discovery of new methods of its use and
aged 19-64 years old, he found positive but improvement of its quality for use by people
also not significant effects on the quality of life with disabilities.
of those persons. The use of a poplar social networking site
The feeling of loneliness and its such as Facebook by people with disabilities
relationship with social networking sites use has the advantage of increasing the
from people with learning disabilities was independence and empowering these people
examined in a survey in Israel. Specifically, the right of access (Shpigelman, & Gill, 2014).
Sharabi and Margalit (2011) to a sample of 716 According to those researchers, in a sample of
people with learning disabilities, found a 172 people with disabilities, they found that
reduction to the feeling of loneliness due to the use of Facebook by these people is
social networking sites use by the sample of increased significantly, leading to the
the present study. conclusion that its use increases social skills of
In a survey in Australia by Raghavendra, these people.
Newman, Grace and Wood (2015), was A further more important social skill is
examined the effect and the impact of social that of interpersonal relations and developing
networking sites use on the social skills of 8 friendship between people in the wider social
persons aged 15 years old with problems and environment. According to Chadwick, Wesson
disabilities in social skills. Researchers found and Fullwood (2013), internets use increases
positive effects of social networking sites use important aspects of the social side of peoples
on the social skills (interaction, personality with disabilities, such as the skill of
communication) and in frequency of their use, creating friendship and independence-
pointing out the need of close and wider social authorization of options. According to the
environments training of people with same researchers, is recommended the creation
disabilities in the use of social networking of appropriate internets use strategies by those
sites. people, for better improvement of the
Positive results for the effects of social mentioned skills.
networking sites on social skills of people Similar results to the above study
with disabilities, were found by Paterson and concluded the survey of Lindstrom, Ahlsten,
Carpenter (2015). In a sample of seven (7) and Hemminqsson (2011). In a sample of 215
people with communication and social students aged 12 years old with mobility
interaction problems, they found that those problems, examined the effect of internets use
people considered positive the use of and practicing in digital skills outside the
communication on their social skills, with school environment to the interaction with
instruments such as: e-mail, areas and peers of people with disabilities. Results
showed a positive relationship between 4. Bolic, V., Lindstrom, H., Thelin, N., &
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