The good, the bad and the ugly: Internet use, outcomes and the role of regulation in the Philippines

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This study expands the Uses and Gratification Theory by examining Internet use and its outcomes among Filipino Internet users. It also tests the Social Cognitive Theory by examining the role of both self and external regulation on Internet use outcomes. The study was done in two phases. In the first phase, interviews were conducted to elicit how the Internet is used as well as perceptions of healthy versus problematic Internet use. In the second phase, surveys were administered to 387 respondents from all over the Philippines. Results revealed that purposes or activities using the Internet can be grouped into seven factors, namely basic Internet use, entertainment, expression and interaction, e‐commerce, school‐related, and technological deviance. Although the last three have been cited in other studies, they have not been included in past taxonomies. Positive outcomes of Internet use are greater productivity and personal enhancement. Negative outcomes can be described in terms of social harm and Internet addiction. Results link specific usage with outcomes. The use of Internet to express oneself and interact predicted both personal enhancement and problematic Internet use. Basic Internet use and entertainment predicted problematic Internet use. External regulation predict personal harm and social harm but not productivity and addiction. Self‐regulation is associated with greater productivity and personal enhancement and is negatively related to social harm and addiction. Self‐regulated was also a strongest predictor of both positive outcomes suggesting that beyond putting in controls for Internet use, developing users ability to self‐regulate are more important in enabling the productive use of the Internet.