The Internet and Social Interaction: National Survey Results from the U.S. and the U.K.

Event Date: 

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • CTL Trailer 932

Ronald Rice

Professor Ron Rice is the Arthur N. Rupe Professor in the Social Effects of Mass Communication in the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barbara. He is also the Co-Director, Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media.

A central issue in Internet research is whether the Internet enables people to isolate themselves, maintain contact with their family, make new friends, or otherwise reconfigure their social networks. This talk examines differences between users and nonusers, in offline and online social interaction, controlling for a variety of socio-demographic and individual factors, analyzing data from national probability sample surveys, in the US (telephone surveys in 1995 and 2000) and Britain (face-to-face interviews in 2003). These data show that the Internet tends to be used in ways that support social interaction rather than social isolation. However, key findings point to more complex implications for sociability -- reconfiguring who people meet and communicate with -- rather than simply constraining or facilitating interaction. Moreover, this pattern is not simply driven by Internet use, but also by demographic and media factors. Only slight differences are found in general patterns between the US and Britain. Originally recorded January 14, 2005 at UC Santa Barbara.