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sábado, janeiro 28, 2006

Personal Relationships Expand with Use of the Web

The Internet allows people to build social networks that support personal decisions. The findings in the report "The Strength of Internet Ties" published by Pew Internet & American Life Project refute previous assumptions that the Web limits social interaction.

Technologies such as the Internet; e-mail; instant messenger and cell phones allow people to develop both "core ties" and "significant ties" at a more global level. Core ties are defined social contacts involving a very close relationship with a person. Significant ties are people somewhat closely connected to an individual. Respondents to the study reported an average 23 core ties and 27 significant ties. The median number of core ties is 15, and significant ties are 16. This means one-half of Americans have 15 or more core ties and 16 or more significant ones.

Contrary to belief the Internet enables social contact outside of social setting, people who e-mail 80 percent or more of their core ties weekly are 25 percent more likely to have phone contact than non-e-mailing counterparts. In-person contact is about the same for those who e-mail their core group and those who don't.
"The Internet does help spur traditional means of staying in touch," said Horrigan.

In times of need, people mobilize their social network of core and significant ties to request help. "Media multiplexers," or heavy users of technological communication channels, look to their social network when they need aid. Devices and technology considered to qualify heavy users include a PDA; cell phone; text messaging; and a wireless Internet connection.

When a person looks to his social network for help, the significant ties group can be more important than a core group. Knowing people across a range of different occupations remains the strongest predictor for getting help.

"Thirty-four percent of people said the Internet played a crucial role, they got advice and support from other people," said Horrigan. "Thirty percent said they got information online to compare options."

Personal Relationships Expand with Use of the Web

The Strength of Internet Ties: The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions


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