Online Interaction Up among Socially Anxious College Students

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- College students who report high levels of social anxiety are nine times more likely to use a Web cam for online communication compared with peers without social anxiety. In addition, those with dating anxiety are 13 times more likely to use the interactive technology, according to a poster presentation at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

"It could be they are more technically advanced. It could also be that the Internet is a buffer--there is no handshake, no blushing--but they still get face-to-face interaction," Sarah Stevens said in an interview.

An estimated 81% of college-aged adults routinely use the Internet and online media. There is some controversy, however, about whether the Internet facilitates or impairs social skills and close relationships, according to Ms. Stevens, psychology department researcher, and her colleague, Tracy Morris, Ph.D., at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

The researchers recruited 666 undergraduates with and without social anxiety at West Virginia University to assess current college dating practices and use of the Internet for communication. Participants completed online versions of the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory, the Dating Anxiety Scale, and the Dating and Assertion Questionnaire.

Perhaps not surprisingly, participants who scored high for social anxiety were significantly less likely to have gone on a date in the previous 6 months. …