Critical Review relating to Chapter 6 (Offprint 3)
'Making friends in cyberspace', Parks and Floyd, 1996
Internet usage has greatly increased from its origins in the 1960's linking university and defence laboratories to a 'global network connecting between 30 and 40 million people'(Elmer-Dewitt, 1995)
This study was conducted to examine the social world that has been created by using internet discussion groups (newsgroups). The study surrounds four questions: 'How often do personal relationships form in Internet newsgroups, who has them, how close or developed do they become and do relationships started on line migrate to other settings?'. There are two conflicting viewpoints regarding internet communication 'One is of relationship lost, while the other is of relationships liberated and found' (Parks, Floyd 1996) which reflect the debates that surround the introduction of new technology and how this is altering society.
Previous research in this area used laboratories where small groups either worked face-to-face(FtF) or communicated using a computer (CMC). Findings have emphasized disadvantages of CMC groups over FtF. CMC do not agree often, can be verbally aggresive and have a tendancy toward non-conformist behaviours (ie 'flaming'). These behaviours are more frequent within CMC groups rather than FtF and has been observed in a variety of organisations e.g., Hiltz, Turoff, & Johnson, 1989; Lea, O'Shea, Fung, & Spears, 1992; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986;. The theory is that there are a lack of social cues on-line because the physical contact is missing. Settings are more impersonal and non-conforming.
The HomeNet project tracked internet usage and mental well being of a small sample of users in Pittsburgh USA. They discovered that 'Greater use of the internet was associated with small, but statistically significant declines in social involvement....and with increases in loneliness...Greater use of the Internet was also associated with increases in depression'...