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Social Side-Effects Of Internet Use 476

venicebeach writes "The World Internet Project has released its third annual report on internet usage. It contains few surprises, but lots of interesing stats - for example the most experienced internet users spend an average of 15.8 hours online per week. CNN is running a story on the social findings - "New study shatters Internet 'geek' image." Apparently they are suprised to hear that internet users are more social than non-users: internet users watch less television, read more books and engage in more social activities."
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Social Side-Effects Of Internet Use

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  • by sugapablo ( 600023 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976561) Homepage
    I got a wife and kid now. :) Met my wife on IRC 6 years ago. We now have our first kid and have been married 3.5 years. And I probably spend 10 hours a day online. :P
  • TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:36PM (#7976571) Journal
    I watch less than 1 hour of TV per week. Unless I or my wife are not feeling well. Then it goes up to an hour or two per day.

    Most of the rest of the time we are working, sleeping, cleaning the house (laundry etc), hanging out with friends, reading books, watching movies, pusuing a hobby or playing games.

    The Internet gives us the content we want, when we want it, where we want it. TV just can't do that.
  • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ndrw ( 205863 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976590)
    I wonder if they count time at "work" in this average as well? I'd be up to around 10 hours a day if so, but less on weekends (when I'm doing all that "socializing").

    I guess my average would be about 55 hours/week then. I bet there's people around here with a lot more though - and probably someone with more than 50 hours a week just on slashdot?!!
  • Not surprised. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LowTolerance ( 301722 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976595)
    I used to be an anti-social geek until I discovered the internet. Upon discovering how easy it is to communicate with people when not face to face, I learned to like people and interact with them. I was able to hide any apprehension, and by subverting this I gained real confidence in myself. This of course translated over well to the real world, and now I consider myself a people person. And no one thinks I am a geek. So this article comes as no surprise to me, and I'm sure that I'm not the only person in this boat.
  • backwards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:37PM (#7976597) Homepage
    So do internet users read more, or do readers watch less TV?

    What a surprise. Some people want more intellectual stimulation than TV provides. Not that South Park and the Daily Show aren't intellectual, but they aren't exactly on the same level as Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel".
  • by TekZen ( 611640 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976606) Homepage Journal
    I would be really interested to see a study seeking to find a link between internet usage and awareness/involvement in current events.

    Many of my friends who aren't on the internet very much are always asking me what's going on in the world. Though I am not sure if it is internet users or memigo [] users.

    -Jackson []
  • by xSquaredAdmin ( 725927 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976609)
    Well, that depends on whether you count Internet chat-rooms/IM services as social activities. If you do, then it does increase the time, otherwise, you're right.
  • by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:40PM (#7976661) Homepage Journal
    Everyone uses the internet. This includes both social and unsocial people. The internet has a much wider and broader appeal than say, reading books, which may not appeal as much to kids and teenages.
  • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:41PM (#7976678) Homepage
    Also, what quantifies "internet use"? For this study, I'm assuming that means time spent in front of a web browser. Does ssh'ing into a linux box halfway across the world count? What if it's across the same city? What if it's under my desk?

    Does checking email count? What if I download my email and read it offline? What if I print out my email and then read it? (no, I don't do this, but I know execs that do)

    What if I'm at my computer, playing nethack, but I'm signed into Trillian?

  • I am not suprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KD7JZ ( 161218 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:49PM (#7976794)
    This is the same effect that has been discussed here often. Heavy internet users are likely to be people who are interested in life. They want to learn, do new things, try new things, know how things work..
  • by Llyr ( 561935 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:50PM (#7976800)
    Also, the use of the internet is causing all sort of people to identify themselves as "geeks" just due to their internet/chat use (it's finally cool to be a tech geek, so alll sorts of people call themselves one even when all they're doing is chatting and downloading files). This skews the statistics.

    However, it should also come as no surprise that internet users read, and talk to each other.

  • Re:15.8hrs/week! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sonpal ( 527593 ) <slashdot AT sonpaltech DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:52PM (#7976831) Homepage
    We should make this a poll topic!
  • What about both? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#7976841)
    I wonder if they considered people who both surf the net and watch tv at the same time?
  • by Llyr ( 561935 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:54PM (#7976858)
    What counts as "more social"? If you have 80 people that you talk with on your contact list in your instant messaging client, does that count as much as social interactions with 80 people in real life? Or is there a certain ratio? I don't think that being social with 5 online people is equal to being social with 5 people in person.

    Also, should we really count all of the 80 people on a list when most of them lurk? Am I really talking to *all* members of Slashdot just now, or just the AC whose post I'm responding to?

    Probably somewhere in the middle, but it's also still not the same as having an actual conversation.

  • Re:TV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Milo Fungus ( 232863 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:56PM (#7976894)

    Same here, but even less. We don't even have a TV in the house. No need.

    Not only does the internet give you "the content we want, when we want it, where we want it," but it also makes it much easier to avoid the content you don't want, when you don't want it, and where you don't want it. There is a lot more violence and sex on TV now than there was just a few years ago when I was a teenager, and a lot of it is in commercials. That's not as big of a problem on the web, especially if you use Mozilla with AdBlock, and have it set to block popups. I almost never see anything I don't want to see while browsing around.

  • by dustmote ( 572761 ) <fleck55&hotmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:00PM (#7976943) Homepage Journal
    Tell me about it. Is it just me or has television advertising gotten more poorly done and more desperate in the past five years? "Hi! Please for the love of god pay attention to me! Buy this product! Do something! Anything! Look! I'm acting crazy! I'm not making sense! Please don't turn off the TV and use the internet! PLEEEEEEEAAAASE" *click* And that's half of why I don't watch it anymore. It's all noise, no signal.
  • This fits me well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by antdude ( 79039 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:01PM (#7976973) Homepage Journal
    ... because I have a speech impediment so I can't communicate verbally very well. Internet and BBS were a big welcome to my life. I rarely even use telephones and don't need TDD devices anymore.
  • Re:In my case... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jin Wicked ( 317953 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:14PM (#7977120) Homepage Journal

    and engage in more social activities....

    This can be true for many. I know it is for me. I was always a bit of a hermit and have had a hard time meeting people I got along with enough to spend much time with, but since I started using things like livejournal and instant messaging, it's resulted in being involved with several groups of friends that I know very well, and we go out and do things like get coffee, shoot pool, and just hang out. I regularly go out and have lunch to meet new people, other artists, writers, whatever, that I've encountered online. So I am definitely more social now that I participate in many online communities. Most of them translate over into "real world" relations quite easily.

  • by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:28PM (#7977295)
    Watching television does not reduce the sociability of a person.

    That's kindof a tricky statement.

    Watching television does not reduce the sociability of a person compared to sitting in a quiet room staring at the wall. Yeah, that makes sense. There are a wide variety of activities that would make a person less social than watching TV.. you're going to have to pick one to make your point. You tried to do that by talking about the racist neighbor kids, but I think you're mistaking social skills for morality in that case.

    Yeah, I might keep my kid (supposing I had one) in the house to watch Big Bird if I thought he was going to throw rocks at the Mexican kids, but I would do so in the belief that hurting people and racism is wrong, and not that he is learning greater social acumen by watching a faceless, glowing box that he can't communicate with. Clearly if he was out running with the neighbor kids he would at least learn things like which people it is socially acceptable to make fun of (What he decides to do about that is a separate issue, imo).
  • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:32PM (#7977362) Journal
    How much more popular radio was with experinced users than non users, in almost every case, radio was much more commonly used, more important to older (been online a long time not age) interent users than noobs. Either the old guard loves Rush, or it's just something that doesn't require eyes, but that is odd. Who'd have thought that an older technology would benefit from the rapid adoption of a newer one leaving the middle tech aced out.
  • by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:43PM (#7977557) Journal
    (What he decides to do about that is a separate issue, imo).

    Now you're making the tricky statements. You're implying that it is ok to subject a child to any social situation, regardless of its moral value, and leave it up to each child to make their own distinction on whether that situation is correct or incorrect. This implies that morality is not a learned trait, but an in-born one. I can guarantee that a baby born into a community of criminals and never introduced to any other examples of social behavior, will commonly become a criminal himself. In those instances where he does not, it is usually because of a mentor or some other positive moral example. My wife and I are only one small positive model for our child to emulate. Any other positive example of morality (especially when they are as cool as Elmo) can only improve the morality of a child and, by learning what is right and wrong, that child will be more successful in socializing with his peers.

  • by FroMan ( 111520 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:48PM (#7977631) Homepage Journal
    Assuming you make $85000 US (Michgan) or $85000 CN (Ontario):

    From doing quick back of a napkin work:

    Paying in US: $18270 (21%)
    Paying in CN: $24740 (29%)

    Also, keep in mind I did not figure for deductions at all (even standard deductions in US)(or Canadian since I do not know their tax system well enough).

    But looking at this, the first 12.6 minutes of each hour is spent working for the government in the US, the first 17.4 minutes are working for the Canadian government. I know which one I prefer.

    I also know my taxes in the US will be lower, since I did not do any deductions (even standard deduction, and also charity, mortgage interest, etc...). I would assume Canadian would have similar deductions though.
  • Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:58PM (#7977774) Homepage
    I was one of the people arranging social events via Chrysalis, one of Dallas' premier bulletin board systems in the days before the Internet took over.

    Met my wife that way... :-)
  • Communication... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Garwulf ( 708651 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:02PM (#7977810) Homepage
    Well, the Internet is sort of a good news/bad news situation when it comes to communication and being social. The good news is that it allows you to do it far more frequently. The bad news is that it doesn't allow you to do it terribly well.

    If you actually break down communication, only about 25% or less is actually verbal. This makes it very difficult to tell the subtext of what somebody is saying.

    For example, let's say you're chatting with somebody and they type "I REALLY like you." It could be enthusiasm...or it could be sarcasm. The two would look identical on the screen. Inflection becomes very important (and makes up about another 25% of communication).

    To make matters even worse, another 50% or more is body language. If the body language isn't there, even the inflection can fail.

    When you're on the 'net, all you have is the verbal component. So, you can communicate with far more people than you would be able to otherwise, but the odds of making a true connection are actually quite slim - you just don't have enough information to really do it.

    (Aside from which, when it comes down to it, when you're chatting on the 'net, or typing something into a forum, you're still sitting by yourself in front of a keyboard. There is something missing.)
  • by Dave_bsr ( 520621 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:43PM (#7978404) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a liberal.

    You, however, are not reasonably correct. Social can mean any sort of gathering and communicating...and certainly chat rooms an email fit the bill. So do the slashdot forums.

    Now you can be anti-social in a chat room or IM conversation...but that's just another story.
  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:53PM (#7978522)
    My brother and I grew up with TV being a limited asset. Our parents severely restricted our TV time, as it were. My little sister however, was not so closely monitored, as my parents had to get full time jobs to support the three of us. She is now reaching the early teen years, is far more astute to the world around her. She is up on the newest fasions, knows the newest phrases, and wants all the new toys in the commercials.

    In short, TV has successfully brainwashed her into the ideal little consumer.

    Watching television doesnt teach a person shit about being a responcible person. It teaches them how to be a responcible capitalist consumer.
  • by bob_jenkins ( 144606 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @06:38PM (#7979083) Homepage Journal
    The traffic on my web site and the amount of (non-spam) email I get are less than half of what they were a year ago. The topics I'm interested in (hash functions, regression testing, voting, orbital mechanics) are mentioned on Usenet less frequently than they were a year ago.

    What's up? Is there less software being developed now than a year ago? Has spam made the internet yucky? Has the internet fad passed? Or is it just me?

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal