INTERNET, SOCIAL CAPITAL, HAPPINESS. WHO, WHAT AND WHY OBTAIN BENEFITS USING THE INTERNET?
There is a debate in the literature concerning psychological and social effects of the Internet usage. A question is raised if this medium helps developing social contacts and building social support networks (enhance building social capital), increases psychological well-being, or the contrary - destroys social networks, lowers social trust, and makes people less happy (Putnam, 1995; 2000; Wellman et al., 2001; Kraut et al., 2002).Analysis, presented in this article, are based on the data of the representative Polish sample, gathered in the 'Social Diagnosis 2003' project. Three groups were compared. Two of them were created upon the criterion of intensity and length of the Internet usage. The third group consisted of those who don't use this medium at all. Influence of socio-demographic variables (such as: age, sex, education, place of residence, income) were also controlled.Results show that those who use the Internet, comparing to those who do not, have more sense of happiness, more friends, and declare more sense of social support. Moreover, the longer period of the Internet usage, the higher level of declared sense of happiness and social capital.
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