December 1, 2015

Internet Use and Psychological Well-Being: Effects of Activity and Audience

Communications of the ACM

By: Robert Kraut, Moira Burke

Abstract

Two lines of research fifteen years apart demonstrate that talking with close friends online is associated with improvements in social support, depression, and other measures of well-being. Talking with strangers and reading about acquaintances are not. Readers should be skeptical of cross-sectional and survey-based studies linking well-being to Internet use; instead, experiments or longitudinal designs pairing surveys with log data provide more reliable insights. Human agency is key: The effect of technology on our lives depends on how we use it, what we talk about, and whom we talk to.