Imagine this: once a happy child with a lot of friends, little Jack has started spending many hours per day on social networking sites such as Facebook, which has turned him into a pale asocial freak. Oh, if only he’d never touched that cursed box we call the computer, he’d be a healthy young man now!
This is the picture we’ve been fed a lot by the media, but according to a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, it’s simply not true.
Quite the contrary: online activities such as social networking, sending e-mails and blogging can lead to larger, and (perhaps even more importantly) more diverse social networks. From the study:
“Social media activities are associated with several beneficial social activities, including having discussion networks that are more likely to contain people from different backgrounds. For instance, frequent internet users, and those who maintain a blog are much more likely to confide in someone who is of another race.
Those who share photos online are more likely to report that they discuss important matters with someone who is a member of another political party.”
Yes, social isolation is still a problem for some 6 percent of the population, but it’s simply not related to the Internet, and hasn’t changed much since 1985.
For the most part, the study conducted on 2,512 adults simply confirms what most of us know already: people use all this new technology to get in touch with their family and friends; for example, people call each person in their circle of closes friends on 195 days in a year, but they also see each of them face to face 210 days in a year. Same goes for Facebook and MySpace, as 71% of users have listed at least one member of their core network of friends as a friend on one of these services.
Read the full article here.