Study Finds Heavy Internet Users Are Isolated


The Washington Post has a not so suprising story about how the internet is changing our lives.

The Internet is creating a class of people who spend more hours at the office, work still more hours from home, and are so solitary they can hardly be bothered to call Mom on her birthday.

Those are some of the conclusions of a major new study of Internet users conducted by Stanford University\'s Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society. But even before its official unveiling here today, the survey of 4,113 people was receiving extensive criticism, guaranteeing another round of debate over the effect of this new technology.

\"We\'re moving from a world in which you know all your neighbors, see all your friends, interact with lots of different people every day, to a functional world, where interaction takes place at a distance,\" said Norman Nie, a Stanford professor of political science and director of the institute. \"Can you get a hug, a warm voice, over the Internet?\"

A quarter of the survey respondents who use the Internet more than five hours a week said they spend less time with friends and family, either on the phone or in person. Ten percent said it had reduced out-of-home social activities.

If personal interaction – not to mention time with such old-fashioned media as newspapers and, particularly, television – were losers, employers benefited. A quarter of the respondents said the time they spent working at home had increased, while their hours at the office had either stayed the same or gone up as well.

No wonder Ford Motor Co. recently said it would give all its employees a personal computer and Internet connection, Nie said. \"They just bought themselves hundreds of thousands of hours of free labor,\" he said. \"You no longer have to pack a briefcase to work at home. Now it\'s all sitting there waiting for you.\"

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