Criticisms of iPhones, Facebook, the Internet, etc. have been around for years. The complaint is often along the lines of “texting is destroying language” or “kids these days are antisocial because all they do is play on their phones.” People have been making strikingly similar claims for centuries and it has never really come to pass. My own skepticism of these claims and those similar emerged when I read science writer Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. Plus, even if the criticisms were true, the benefits of these new technologies seem to far outweigh the costs.
An article from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley explores several recent studies that analyze the connection between technology and social capital. The conclusion?:
Taken together, these three studies hint at a compelling story—that social networking services can be a significant way of developing, maintaining, and strengthening our social connections, both online and in person. Using social networking services builds social capital in a number of ways: greater emotional support, lower levels of loneliness, and more feelings of connectedness. But these studies also contain a note of caution: Too many followers and too much participation can lead to information overload, depression, and feelings of disconnectedness.
The bottom line? I’m going to keep my iPhone and my Facebook account—but I think I’ll also keep setting limits.
Check it out.