by Hua Wang University of Southern California Barry Wellman University of Toronto
There is some panic in the United States about a possible decline in social connectivity. We use two American national surveys to analyze how changes in the number of friends are related to changes in Internet use. We find that friendships continue to be abundant among adult Americans between the ages of 25 to 74 and to have grown from 2002 to 2007. This trend is similar among Internet non-users, light users, moderate users, and heavy users – and across communication contexts: offline, virtual only, and migrating from online to offline. Heavy users are particularly active, having the most friends both on- and off-line. Intracohort change consistently outweighs cohort replacement in overall growth in friendship.