Technology Not Causing Social Isolation - Pew Study

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON, November 4, 2009 (AFP) - 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."All the evidence points in one direction," said Keith Hampton, lead author of the report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project released Wednesday. "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 Hampton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.The authors said key findings of the study -- "Social Isolation and New Technology" -- "challenge previous research and commonplace fears about the harmful social impact of new technology.""There is a tendency by critics to blame technology first when social change occurs," Hampton said."This is the first research that actually explores the connection between technology use and social isolation and we find the opposite."It turns out that those who use the Internet and mobile phones have notable social advantages," Hampton said. "People use the technology to stay in touch and share information in ways that keep them socially active and connected to their communities."The study found that six percent of Americans can be described as socially isolated -- lacking anyone to discuss important matters with or who they consider to be "especially significant" in their life. …