Korean immigrant adolescents' engagement with the internet : understanding the importance of cultural orientations and bicultural competence
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The research questions of this study explore, first, the general patterns of Internet access and engagement among Korean immigrant adolescents, and second, the relationships between the adolescents’ culture-specific online activities and their (a) Korean cultural orientation, (b) American cultural orientation, and (c) bicultural competence. The separate examinations of Korean and American cultural orientations and the consideration of bicultural competence are based on the bicultural model to immigrant’s cross-cultural adjustment, which asserts that cultural orientations to the host and home countries develop and operate independently. Both types of cultural orientation are considered to be multidimensional, involving five distinct processes: cultural identity, knowledge of cultural values and norms, knowledge of popular culture, language proficiency, and cultural social support. Finally, a number of different culture-specific online activities—i.e., email, social networking, entertainment media, and information seeking activities performed on both Korean-language and English-language websites—are considered based on the assumption that different activities will engage different types and levels of cultural orientations and bicultural competence. The research questions are addressed by analyses of data collected through a quantitative survey of 168 Korean immigrant teenagers residing in Texas. The findings of this study demonstrate that these young Korean immigrants are privileged and active users of the Internet. Their online engagement is influenced by common youth-oriented interests as well as by their cultural orientations toward Korean and American cultures. Specifically, different types of culture-specific online activities invoke different aspects of the adolescents’ Korean and American orientations. In particular, the multiple dimensions of American (vs. Korean) orientation are more commonly associated with culture-specific online activities in general, negatively predicting Korean-website activities while positively predicting English-website activities. Of the multiple dimensions, knowledge of popular culture is most commonly associated with culture-specific online activities, while language proficiency is least associated. Further, levels of engagement with culture-specific online activities differ across groups of differing levels of bicultural competence. Particularly, individuals who are biculturally competent across multiple cultural orientation dimensions experience more engaged and diverse online experiences within English-language websites. This study offers theoretical and methodological implications for research on youth and online media and research on immigrants’ cross-cultural adjustment.