The Internet fosters social contact

· The Power of Many

I’ve always felt (and I said this all over the book) that it was wrong to think that the Internet inherently isolates people or makes them behave antisocially.
A Pew report issued Wednesday, supports the idea the use of the Internet expands social contact:
> The Pew Internet and American Life Project also finds that U.S. Internet users are more apt to get help on health care, financial and other decisions because they have a larger set of people to which to turn.
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> Further rebuking early studies suggesting that the Internet promotes isolation, Pew found that it “was actually helping people maintain their communities,” said Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto sociology professor and co-author of the Pew report.
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> The study found that e-mail is supplementing, not replacing, other means of contact. For example, people who e-mail most of their closest friends and relatives at least once a week are about 25 percent more likely to have weekly landline phone contact as well. The increase is even greater for cell phones.
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> “There’s a certain seamlessness of how people maintain their social networks,” said John Horrigan, Pew’s associate director. “They shift between face-to-face, phone and Internet quite easily.”
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> Meanwhile, Internet users tend to have a larger network of close and significant contacts — a median of 37 compared with 30 for nonusers — and they are more likely to receive help from someone within that social network.