Article

The internet and social life.

New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA.
Annual Review of Psychology (Impact Factor: 20.53). 02/2004; 55:573-90. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141922
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Internet is the latest in a series of technological breakthroughs in interpersonal communication, following the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television. It combines innovative features of its predecessors, such as bridging great distances and reaching a mass audience. However, the Internet has novel features as well, most critically the relative anonymity afforded to users and the provision of group venues in which to meet others with similar interests and values. We place the Internet in its historical context, and then examine the effects of Internet use on the user's psychological well-being, the formation and maintenance of personal relationships, group memberships and social identity, the workplace, and community involvement. The evidence suggests that while these effects are largely dependent on the particular goals that users bring to the interaction-such as self-expression, affiliation, or competition-they also interact in important ways with the unique qualities of the Internet communication situation.

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