Interesting report just out from PEW Internet – adding new perspectives on how the internet is affecting the development of relationships and social interaction.
A widely-reported 2006 study argued that since 1985 Americans have become more socially isolated, the size of their discussion networks has declined, and the diversity of those people with whom they discuss important matters has decreased. In particular, the study found that Americans have fewer close ties to those from their neighborhoods and from voluntary associations.
This Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community survey finds that Americans are not as isolated as has been previously reported. People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.