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article imageNo decline in face-to-face interactions in the social media era

By Tim Sandle     Mar 3, 2018 in Internet
We may live in a society dominated by social media. While some may worry that that this reshaping how society functions, new research suggests there has been no decline with face-to-face interactions.
The message from a recent University of Missouri-Columbia study is that social media does not decrease face-to-face interactions. Here researchers have concluded there is no measurable negative effect on social interactions or social well-being from the increases in social media use that have occurred over the past few years.
There have always been concerns about technology and a disruptive influence on society. When telegrams appeared, scholarly works were written about the social impact. The mass production of television sets also drew similar concerns (such as the classic 1959 research "Social Norms in Television-Watching"). It should come as no surprise that the rise of the Internet and the advent of social media have launched similar inquiries into the sociology of technology.
This premise is explained by lead researcher Professor Michael Kearney: "The current assumption is that when people spend more time on apps like Facebook and Snapchat, the quality of their in-person social interactions decreases."
Challenging this, the academic explains: "Our results suggested that social media use doesn't have a strong impact on future social interactions."
To draw this conclusion the researchers looked at general social media usage and found that social media use was not associated with changes in direct social contact. They also examined adults and college students through text-messaging over the course of five days. Here the researchers discovered that social media use earlier in the day had no significant impact on future social interactions.
The research has been published in the peer reviewed journal Information, Communication & Society. The research paper is titled "Two tests of social displacement through social media use."
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