Building and maintaining social connections

Computers and the Internet have radically changed how people communicate and socialize with one another, express themselves, seek help for problems, and learn about their family histories. Recent research has pointed out secondary effects which have may have downstream results affecting the users and their families who engage in social activities using computers in libraries and other public places. Milner (2009) found that, “Internet users reported an easier social life than non-users, and a stronger awareness of important current affairs. They also tended to have higher self confidence than non-users.” Immigrant communities may also use public access computers to help keep their families together (Parkinson 2005).
Social activities are an important component of many users’ interaction with library computer and Internet services, providing an entry point into more practical uses of the computers such as the others discussed previously. Learning how to use the technologies associated with computers and the Internet, and forming a social support group that can assist with future activities, may be important indirect contributing factors to the impact of library computers on the individuals and communities they serve.
Overall, 60 percent of users (46.3 million people) used their public library’s computer and Internet resources to connect with other people, find support for a problem or concern, or enjoy other social activities. Over 34 percent of these users indicated they had undertaken actions in this area on behalf of a relative, friend, colleague, or someone else in the past year. (p. 158-9)

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