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Information Communication and Society
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 11  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 617 - 639

A methodological response to ‘web-use and net-nerds’

Paul Stoneman    

Abstract: Usage of technologies, it has been argued, creates social and political malaise. Television was perceived to be the first culprit and it seems that the internet is being dubbed as the ‘new television’. As such, this paper focuses on the relationship between internet usage and time spent with friends and family, as well as other associational activities. A secondary concern is the impact of internet usage on traditional media usage, namely watching television and reading newspapers. By critiquing methods and results in this area, and by offering further empirical evidence, it will be argued that the internet has yet to have a significant impact on time use in social life. Using Home Online (HoL) data, and employing factor analysis and lagged regression models, it will be demonstrated that some negative, marginal effects appear to have taken place in terms of reducing bonding social capital. It will also be demonstrated that counter-intuitive positive effects appear to have taken place in terms of reading newspapers. Given the negative time elasticity effects of internet usage on seeing close friends as well as some domestic activities, analyses of the internet’s impact on relationships within the home, that is, family life, should be the focus of future research in this field.

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