In trying to digest the conclusions and supporting evidence presented in “Social Isolation and New Technology: How the internet and mobile phones impact Americans’ social networks,” I’m getting a little carsick. It’s a great ride, but I’m having trouble with some of the unexpected hairpin turns.
The authors of this Pew study start with broad conclusions that social isolation in the United States isn’t so bad and the internet, mobile phones and online social networks are essentially making it better. Then, reading on, whiplash approaches from statements like these…
- Users of social networking services are 30% less likely to know their neighbors.
- Users of social networking services are 26% less likely to have used neighbors as a source of companionship.
- With the exception of those who use instant messaging, internet users are 26% less likely to have received small services (e.g., household chores, shopping, repairs, house-sat, lent tools or supplies) from neighbors.
- Internet users are 40% less likely to have been cared for, or had a member of their family cared for, by a neighbor. And, users of social networking services are 39% less likely than other internet users, or 64% less likely than those who do not use the internet, to have received family care from a neighbor.
- Internet users who are frequent users at work are 57% less likely to borrow money from neighbors.
Other points from the Pew study to consider…
Do you know the names of the neighbors who close to you, or not?
- 40% Yes, know all or most
- 30% Yes, know some
- 30% Do not know any
- Apartment dwellers are 60% less likely than home dwellers to know at least some of their neighbors.
- Those who are married or cohabitating are 31% more likely to know their neighbors.
- The likelihood of knowing at least some neighbors increases 3% for every year of age.
- Residential stability, the longer one lives in any one place increases the odds of knowing neighbors; 6% per year.
- The odds that women know at least some neighbors are 41% higher than for men.
- Those with larger, core networks are more likely to know neighbors. The odds are 19% higher per core tie in their network.
- The odds of knowing at least some neighbors are 50% lower for African Americans and 43% less for those of other races, in comparison to white Americans.
And this chart is very interesting (although it calls into question the whole notion of people self-reporting, given the difference between the responses to the two versions of the question)…
More interesting survey results…
- Bloggers are 72% more likely to belong to a local group.
- Those who frequently access the internet at work are 49% more likely to go to a non-fastfood restaurant, 35% more likely to visit a community center, 21% more likely to visit a public park, and 71% more likely to go to a bar.
- However, frequent internet users at work were 26% less likely to visit a library.
- Those who contribute to a blog are 61% more likely to go to a public park than internet users who do not blog.
- Users of social networking websites are 40% more likely to visit a bar, but 36% less likely to visit a religious institution.
- Users of instant messaging are 21% less likely to visit a library than those who do not use IM.