Internet users are not as isolated as has been previously reported, but new research shows that it does affect how much married couples or partners rely on each other as confidants.
A Wednesday study released from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the increased use of technology has not increased social isolation but the opposite happens. People who use the internet, instant messaging, mobile phones, photo sharing sites and social networks benefit from being more likely to have a larger, more diverse core of close confidants.
The study was a result of a widely publicized June 2006 report that found that since 1985, Americans became more socially isolated and had less people with whom they can share important and sensitive matters.
Social media -like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - often leads to interaction with a more diverse group of people.
For instance, frequent Internet users and those who maintain a blog are much more likely to confide in someone who is of another race, Pew said.
Those who share photos online are more likely to report that they discuss important matters with someone who is a member of another political party.
So who do we confide in?
Internet users are apparently 38 percent less likely to rely exclusively on their spouses or partners as discussion confidants. Those who use instant messaging are even less likely to do so.
Conclusively, 45 percent of Americans prefer to confide important matters with someone who is not a family member. Of the avid Internet users, 55 percent said they prefer to disclose important information to a nonfamily member, most likely a stranger they meet online.
The study also showed that only 12 percent had no close discussion partners, a slight increase from the 8.1 percent who put themselves into that category in 1985. And only 5.8 percent were truly socially isolated.
We confirm that Americans' discussion networks have shrunk by about a third since 1985 and have become less diverse because they contain fewer non-family members, the Pew study found.
However, contrary to the considerable concern that people's use of the Internet and cell phones could be tied to the trend towards smaller networks, we find that ownership of a mobile phone and participation in a variety of Internet activities are associated with larger and more diverse core discussion networks.
The Pew Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., conducts numerous studies on current public views about political, press and public policy issues.
To reach its conclusions, Pew hired Princeton Survey Research Associates to conduct telephone interviews with 2,512 adults between July 9, 2008 and August 10, 2008.
You can read the Pew study online by clicking this link.