Increased Internet Usage and Social Isolation
The study by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society (SIQSS) has its 10th anniversary now as I stumbled over a new study by the German ifo-Institut, looking into the same topic a decade later.
- The SIQSS study states:
- Internet isolates people
- Internet allows work to intrude into home
- Internet causes people to remain “home alone and anonymous”
- The ifo-study says:
“Web-Nutzung hat keinen negativen Einfluss auf sogenannte Face-to-Face-, also persönliche Sozialkontakte (außer mit Verwandten: Web-Nutzer haben weniger Verwandtschafts-, aber mehr Bekanntschaftskontakte)”
Using the web does not have a negative effect on so-called face-to-face, i.e., personal social contacts (except with relatives: web-user have less contacts with relatives, but more with acquaintances)
From a statistical point of view the studies are questionable anyways; the Stanford study does not reveal what was exactly done (beyond correlations/associations), and the ifo-study shows loads of significant terms of a linear model of very questionable stability. The former are social scientists the latter economists.
That somehow predefines the results. Social scientists will look critical on the changes the internet brings with it whereas economists must praise modernism fueling revenues that pays their salaries.
My personal opinion (and observations) is closer to what the SIQSS study showed than to what the ifo-institue delivered. The studies are certainly based on different situations as the ifo-study looks into the internet world of Web 2.0 and the so called “social networks”, but nonetheless, while working “with” the internet, we do not really interact with humans – ask my kids …