Whether technology promotes or disconnects social life inevitably boils down to finding balance between paying attention to devices and engaging directly with people. Three new studies shed light upon the role of social technology in our lives—and suggest how we can make the most of it.Lauren Klein writes for the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center,whose purpose is to “study the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.” In Does Technology Cut Us Off from Other People?, she reviews three new studies on the impact of technology on individuals’ social capital.
The first study looked at smartphone use among young people, asking them to report on various dimensions of social involvement, such as Trust, Organizational and Political Participation and Network Resources. The second study looked at social networking effects among older people. The third study examined the impact of Twitter upon the type of social capital:
These types of bonds, which are largely informational, are described by researchers as bridging social capital, which the authors loosely define as, “the formation of rather weak ties between people from different networks.” Bonding social capital, on the other hand, has a more emotional tone. Bonding happens in homogenous groups of like-minded individuals, like friends or family. So if bonding capital is about connecting more deeply, then bridging capital is about connecting more widely.
Apparently, Twitter can help to build both, but there’s a sweet spot between the size of one’s following and the depth. Read Klein’s full article here.
For more about reality of social technologies benefiting the way people socialize, see our previous post about the study published in the MIT Tech Review, The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective.