Additional confirmation of the adverse effect of Internet use on loneliness has been found in other studies as well.A study by Stanford University, for the Quantitative Study of Society, of a representative sample of 4113 American adults found that social isolation increases with Internet use.Establishing social connections can often be quite difficult for those people who experience high levels of anxiety when in social situations.However, on the Internet, many situational factors that cause anxiety in face to-face encounters are absent.Although there are a lot of, yet partly unknown, factors concerning negative effects of the internet, two main factors are especially relevant for the presented study: first there is a displacement of social activities where the individual ends up spending so much time online that he or she is unable to participate in face to face social activities.The second is the displacement of “strong ties.” That is, the quality of online relationships is of a lower quality than face to face relationships.As the average amount of time spent on the Internet is rapidly increasing, the starting age of Internet users is steadily decreasing.
Instead, higher levels of Internet use were positively correlated with measures of social involvement and psychological well-being. studies indicated that the potential for negative psychological and social consequences reduced as society became more accustomed to using the internet (Whitty & Mc Laughlin, 2007).
Shaw and Gant (2002), for instance, found that increased Internet usage was associated with decreased levels of loneliness and depression and increased levels of social support and self-esteem.
Internet activities are also known to provide support, information and opportunities for social connection to marginalized and socially isolated groups such as same-sex attracted young people (Hillier & Harrison 2007), parents of disabled children (Blackburn & Read 2005), people with social anxiety (Campbell, Cumming & Hughes 2006).
It provides not only a vastly expanded social network, but also altered social interaction patterns online that may be particularly attractive to those who are lonely (Whitty & Mc Laughlin, 2007).
Lonely people are more likely than the non-lonely to be socially inhibited and anxious.