and Gratifications and Internet Profiles:
THE NEED FOR INTERNET USER STUDY:
As pointed out after the earlier discussion of Kcrmar and Greene's study on violence and television, it is still difficult to determine whether or not behaviors are a direct result of motive or a latent effect of the intended motive. Another example of this paradox might be if one individual enjoys playing games on the Internet (entertainment), and another likes to visit chat rooms (inclusion). Both users, however, are actually motivated to use the Internet as a way to pass time (a traditional media motivator). Conversely, usage of the same media by different individuals often originates from entirely different needs. Some members of a chat community may have been motivated by the need for companionship. Other members may visit the chat room because they feel more confident interacting with people this way (control or unwillingness to communicate). And still others may go to escape or find entertainment. Another benefit of compiling this type of data is the consideration of the Internet as an alternative to other media. In order for a medium to be a functional alternative, its use must be motivated by similar needs. Prior research indicates that television viewing is used primarily for relaxing and entertainment, followed by passing time and obtaining information (Ferguson & Perse, 2000). VCRs and cable easily provide functional alternatives to broadcast television, as motivations are similar. Internet usage, however, encompasses a variety of services and is rarely related to relaxation. It could, however, provide an alternative medium if its content provided the same amount of gratifications and for similar needs as the original medium. Considering these difficulties, it is important to develop standard frameworks designed to more closely examine the gratifications resulting from the media choice and to clearly define terms and categories used in measuring data. Similarities and differences between the Internet and other media need more in-depth study to fully assess the influence of the Internet and its function for users. It is appropriate to use existing theories as a foundation for Internet studies, but a better understanding requires more than streamlining existing models to fit the medium. The unique characteristics of the Internet should be explored using criteria that support its diverse functions. To do otherwise would be to ignore the very properties that define its unique nature.