Report

The Future of Online Socializing

  • July 02, 2010

While they acknowledge that use of the internet as a tool for communications can yield both positive and negative effects, a significant majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey say it improves social relations and will continue to do so through 2020.

The highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey included 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The study was fielded by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center.

Some 85% agreed with the statement:

“In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.”
Some 14% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:

“In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a negative force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.”

Most of people who participated in the survey were effusive in their praise of the social connectivity already being leveraged globally online. They said humans' use of the internet's capabilities for communication – for creating, cultivating, and continuing social relationships – is undeniable. Many enthusiastically cited their personal experiences as examples, and several noted that they had met their spouse through internet-borne interaction.

Read the full report, The Future of Social Relations on the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project Web site.