Social networks make us feel more connected, survey says

But people are spending less face-to-face time with friends

Being online is making Americans feel more connected but they're actually seeing friends face-to-face less often.

That's according to a Harris Poll, which also showed that 58% of those surveyed said they know what's going on with their friends and acquaintances, but don't interact with them personally. And 54% said they have less actual contact with their friends than ever before.

So, if people are more connected how does that making them feel?

Well, 31% say they feel more lonely than before.

"It's getting harder to remember a time when people didn't "friend" or "follow" someone and have that mean electronically, not in person," the report noted. "And, on the whole, social media users seem to be the better for it, connecting with friends and old classmates that they probably wouldn't have gotten in touch with before social networks. Then, there is the argument that connecting online could actually harm relationships and make people feel more isolated."

It's no surprise that the Harris Poll found that people are increasingly catching up with friends online.

Earlier this year, another study showed that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are occupying more of users' time.

And this past summer, yet another study showed that 57% of women said they communicate with people more online than they do in person. And 39% called themselves Facebook addicts.

The recent Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,258 adults online between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3, noted that young users -- between 18 and 34 -- are connecting more online than their older counterparts. However, those younger users also are reporting less face-to-face encounters with friends.

It's a different story when it comes to connecting with people you work with. According to the poll, only 19% of people say they feel very connected or connected through social media to business associates.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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