Study: The Internet Helps You Make More Friends, Be More Social

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It’s the kind of news you can use next time concerned parents bring up the idea that the internet is making people more withdrawn and closed off from the rest of humanity: A new study from the Pew Research Center has found that online social networks actually seem to make people more social.

Pew polled 2,255 Americans during October and November last year, and of the 1,787 internet users in that group, 47% used social networking sites. Facebook was used by 92% of the 975 people that used social networks, with MySpace in second place, with 29%. Linkedin and Twitter trailed behind, with 18% and 13% respectively.

(PHOTOS: Life Inside Facebook Headquarters)

That’s almost twice as many as in 2008, when the survey was last held. But more interestingly, there’s also been a rise in the number of close friendships people are reporting when compared with 2008—2.16 close friends on average, compared with 2008′s 1.93—with that increase being lead by those online, who reported an average of 2.26 close friends to the offline respondents’ 1.75. It gets even better when you look at those using social networks, who reported 2.45 close friends on average.

The study even looked into the number of social ties internet users and non-internet users have, and found that online Americans tend to have 664 ties on average, compared with an offline average of around 506. That number goes crazy when you start to plug in different social networks, however: Facebook users average 648 social ties, but Twitter users have an average of 838.

So, the next time someone says that they think the internet is bad for society, the answer is clear: Sign them up for Twitter, and see how they feel a couple of weeks later.