From a sample from 13 countries, the Internet doesn’t make us more lonely, the Internet improves our social lives. The critics of Internet suggesting that the Internet has a negative impact on us can be put at ease, the Internet doesn’t ruin our social lives.
Recent research took into account the different kinds of usage of the Internet. It can be used to as a supplement on the communication with friends and relatives but it also can be used as a substitute for more traditional forms of communication and traditional social ties.
This result is in contrast with previous research. In previous research Internet use was shown to have an anti social effect. According to these negative results time for interaction with family, friends or colleagues was diminished due to increase in time on the Internet. The finding that lonely people using the Internet were generally more sociable online than offline, lonely people more often use the Internet compared to non lonely people.
Moreover, research also confirms that Internet users have contact with a higher number of friends and relatives than non users. And
the degree of social isolation found in the United States has barely changed in the last 20 years.
Besides the diversity of Internet mediated social activities other variables are also important in their influence on the effects of the amount of Internet usage on users’ social lives: age, income and education. The researchers took these confounding factors into account in their research.
The researchers used data from the World Internet Project
This is a major international collaborative project looking at the social, political, and economic impact of the different media channels (http://www.worldInternetproject.net). This project provides a unique opportunity to gain an overall understanding of the impact of the Internet on social behavior.
Their findings are based on international data from 13 countries. Not only did they find positive effects of Internet on social contacts, they also found Internet use to be associated with several beneficial social activities such as interacting with friends and colleagues. They also claim that Internet use especially in heavy users may actually lead to more social interaction.
Amichai-Hamburger, Y., & Hayat, Z. (2010). The impact of the Internet on the social lives of users: A representative sample from 13 countries Computers in Human Behavior DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.009