Self-concept, self-esteem, gender, race and information technology use
Linda A. Jackson
, Alexander von Eye, Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Yong Zhao, Edward A. Witt
Michigan State University, 308 Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Available online 28 December 2009
This research addressed two fundamental questions regarding self-concept, self-esteem, gender, race and
information technology use. First, is technology use related to dimensions of self-concept and/or to self-
esteem? Second, are there gender and/or race differences in self-concept, self-esteem and technology
use? Approximately 500 youth, average age 12 years old, one-third of whom were African American
and the remaining two-thirds were Caucasian American, completed multidimensional measures of
self-concept, the Rosenberg (1965) self-esteem scale and measures of frequency of Internet use, Internet
use for communication (email and instant messaging), videogame playing and cell phone use. Findings
indicated that technology use predicted dimensions of selfconcept and self-esteem, with videogame play-
ing having a negative inﬂuence, and Internet use having a positive inﬂuence on self-concept dimensions.
Gender differences were observed on several self-concept dimensions but contrary to expectations not on
the social self-concept dimension. Only one race difference was observed and this was in behavioral self-
concept. Implications of the beneﬁts and liabilities of youth’s current and future technology use are
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The purpose of this research was to examine relationships
among self-concept, self-esteem and information technology (IT)
use and to explore possible gender and race differences in these
relationships. Harter’s Self-Perceived Competence scale (1984,
1999) and additional measures of self-concept developed in previ-
ous research were used to capture the multidimensional nature of
self-concept (Crocker, Eklund, & Kowalski, 2000; Marsh, 1998).
Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale, a widely accepted and well-
validated measure of one’s overall sense of self-worth was used
to measure self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1985). Multiple measures of
IT use typical of pre-teen children were used to examine relation-
ships between IT use and dimensions of self-concept and
According to Harter (1999), youth’s self-concepts can be
captured by three dimensions: cognitive, social and physical
appearance/body self-concept. Cognitive self-concept is based pri-
marily on school or academic performance. Social self-concept is
based on popularity with peers and friendship networks. Physical
appearance/body self-concept is based on self-perceived athletic
skills and participation in sports. Harter also posited a fourth gen-
eral dimension that summarizes general feelings of self-worth or
what is typically referred to as self-esteem. The cognitive, social
and physical appearance self-concept dimensions are considered
distinct from the self-worth or self-esteem dimension, although
evaluations along the former dimensions contribute to overall
self-esteem. Fox (1999) deﬁned self-esteem as an evaluation of
the self-concept, including feelings associated with that evaluation.
Dimensions of self-concept contribute to global self-esteem to the
extent that these dimensions are considered important to one’s
sense of self (Fox, 2000).
1.1. Information technology use, self-concept and self-esteem
Information technology (IT) use is deﬁned in this research as the
frequency of Internet use, Internet use for communication, video-
game playing and cell phone use. A diverse set of research ﬁndings
suggests that there may be relationships between IT use and
dimensions of self-concept and self-esteem, although the direction
and nature of these relationships have yet to be demonstrated.
First, with respect to cognitive self-concept, research indicates
that the presence of computers in the home is a strong predictor
of academic success in mathematics and science and overall aca-
demic success (BECTA, 2003; National Center for Educational Sta-
tistics, 2000), suggesting a positive relationship between Internet
use and cognitive self-concept. However, a variety of factors re-
lated to having computers in the home and to academic success,
such as parental income and education, may account for this rela-
tionship. A review of research on school learning with computer-
based technology, which included ﬁve meta-analytic reviews,
came to the unsatisfying conclusion that the ﬁndings are inconclu-
sive (Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordon, & Means, 2000). Sometimes
0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 517 353 8690; fax: +1 517 432 2476.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (L.A. Jackson).
Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010) 323–328
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