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Nov 6, 2009

Impact of Internet and Cellphones

Source: The Straits Times, Friday, Novemeber 6, 2009


Technology boosts social life: Study

Users of Internet and mobile phones have more active and wider social networks

WASHINGTON: Contrary to popular belief, technology is not leading to social isolation and Americans who use the Internet and mobile phones have larger and more diverse social networks, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The study refutes reserach earlier in the decade suggesting that people's growing embrace of technology has come at the expense of close human connections.

"All the evidence points in one direction," said Dr Keith Hampton, lead author of the report by the Pew Internet and Merican Life Project.

"People's social worlds are enhanced by new communication technologies.

"It is a mistake to believe that Internet use and mobile phones plunge people into a spiral of isolation," said Dr Hampton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.


The Internet also has not pulled people away from public places like parks, cafes and restaurants - in fact, it is just the opposite.

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

In fact, people now text these close friends and family members as much as they use traditional land line 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 his close group of confidants 210 days out of the year. If they have cellphones, they call each person in that group on 195 days.

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

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press




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