Antisocial and Internet Use?

The technology that has allowed people to keep in closer touch with distant family members and friends, to find information quickly and to develop friendships with people from around the world, is also replacing vital day-to-day human interactions. A computer monitor can?t give you a hug or laugh at your jokes. And some psychologists worry that the Internet?s widening popularity will lead to further isolation among a population that, although gravitating toward virtual communities in cyber-space, seems to have lost a genuine sense of belonging and connection.

A report that greater use of the Internet leads to shrinking social support and happiness, and increases in depression and loneliness. The study is the first to look specifically at the impact that Internet use has on general emotional well-being.

And the findings were unexpected, Kraut says, given that most people use the Internet for chat lines and e-mail, not just to isolate themselves in mounds of electronic information.

‘We were surprised to find that what is a social technology, unlike the television, has kind of antisocial consequences,’ Kraut says.