Study: Internet use leads to more diverse networks

Nov 04, 2009

(AP) -- A new study confirms what your 130 Facebook friends and scores of Twitter followers may have already told you: The Internet and mobile phones are not linked to social isolation.

Online activities such as e-mail, blogging and frequenting Internet hangouts can even lead to larger, more diverse social networks, according to the study released Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The study refutes research earlier in the decade suggesting that people's growing embrace of technology has come at the expense of close human connections.

"Social isolation has not changed that much since 1985," said Keith Hampton, the main author of the study professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. This means that very few adults - 6 percent of the population - say they have no one to talk to about important matters in their lives.

The 2008 survey of 2,512 adults did find that Americans' core discussion networks - that group of people you count on being able to confide in - has gotten smaller in the past two decades. It's down, on average, to about two people instead of three. They've also become less diverse because they contain fewer friends and more family members.

This trend, however, was not linked to the use technology. It's not the Internet's fault you have fewer good friends.

The Internet also hasn't pulled people away from public places like parks, cafes and restaurants - just the opposite.

The study, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points and accounted for differences because of age, education and other factors, also found that people now tend to use cell phones more than landlines to stay in touch with closest family and friends.

In fact, people now text these close friends and family members as much as they use traditional landline phones, about 125 days out of the year.

Face-to-face contact is still the primary way people keep in touch. The average person sees each member in their close group of confidants 210 days out of the year. If they have a cell phone, they call each person in that group on 195 days.

Another interesting tidbit: Users of social networking Web sites are 40 percent more likely to visit a bar, but 36 percent less likely to visit a religious institution than those who shun Facebook, MySpace and the like.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook to keep profiles of the dead

Oct 27, 2009

(AP) -- Death doesn't erase the online footprints that people leave in life and Facebook won't either, though it will make some changes.

Study finds Web no equalizer for civic engagement

Sep 01, 2009

(AP) -- Unlike some people have hoped, the Internet hasn't led to big changes in the socio-economic makeup of Americans engaged in civic activities, a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.