Lifestyle and behavior in the news

by Communications Staff

February 14, 2006 — A new study, “The Strength of Internet Ties,” published on January 25 found that the Internet and e-mail are helping users maintain social networks and get assistance when they face important life decisions. USA Today and CNN were among the major media that reported on the recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Among the major findings:

  • The Internet and e-mail support geographically dispersed social networks.

  • Internet users have somewhat larger social networks than non-users. The median network size is 37 for Internet users and 30 for non-users.

  • People connect with others in their social networks when they need help with issues including caring for someone with a major illness or when looking for health-related information.

  • Approximately 60 million Americans said that the Internet has served an important or crucial role in helping them deal with one or more major life decisions in the preceding two years.

  • The use of e-mail does not reduce telephone and person-to-person contact. In fact, the more an individual uses e-mail, the more in-person and phone contact he or she makes.

The report findings are based on two telephone surveys — each consisting of about 2,220 adults age 18 and older — during 2004 and 2005. For results based on the entire sample, the authors reported a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The complete report is available on the Pew Internet and American Life Project website.