The impact of the internet on local and distant social ties

Andrea Kavanaugh, Than Than Zin, Mary Beth Rosson, John M. Carroll

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


People use various modes of communication to maintain their social networks, both local and distant. In the United States, Internet use has been growing steadily, and electronic mail has consistently been the most popular online activity. We investigate the effect of online communication with social ties in the highly networked community of Blacksburg, VA, and surrounding rural Montgomery County. We conducted a random strati- fied household survey to residents in two rounds (2001 and 2002) as part of a larger study on the Internet and community. Our findings provide further evidence that computer networking helps to strengthen and cultivate different types of ties and support within a person's social network at both the local and distant levels. We found significant differences in online communication based on type of social tie (close, somewhat close, and acquaintances), gender, and type of Internet user (heavy versus light, experienced versus novice). Our findings clearly support claims that overall the Internet is used to support and strengthen sociability and social interaction. This finding also holds for social circles at the local level, suggesting that local community is not undermined by Internet use. Finally, people who use the Internet more heavily (more hours per day) also show more social interaction than people who use the Internet less or not at all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNetworked Neighbourhoods
Subtitle of host publicationThe Connected Community in Context
PublisherSpringer London
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)1846282675, 9781846282676
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science


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