Now The Internet Makes You Neglect Family And Chores?

from the how-dare-you! dept

Over the years, there have been plenty of (usually easily discredited) studies that claimed the internet was bad for you. Perhaps the most famous, was the Carnegie Mellon study done in 1998 that got the NY Times treatment, claiming that people online were lonely and depressed. Of course, it wasn’t hard to pick apart the study’s methodology (including the fact that they only interviewed people in Pittsburgh, which hardly seems like a representative sample). Three years later, the same group of folks announced in a new study that the internet no longer made people depressed — but the damage was still done. Every year or so, we tend to see another such study making similar claims about how awful the internet is. In 2000, it came from researchers at Stanford, for example.

The latest, focusing on Canada, is that heavy use of the internet makes you neglect your family and your chores. Of course, reading the details, it seems to indicate that spending time on the internet means you spend less time on “other stuff,” which makes quite a bit of sense given the fairly consistent “only 24 hours in a day” thing that’s been going on for a while. At least that article quotes a few people who note this is silly. Other press mentions really play up the negative angle, calling internet users “a lonely lot,” or “loners.” At least some are questioning this spin, noting that the study qualified “heavy users” as anyone who spends more than an hour online — which is a pretty random number. Hell, if you did a study looking at people who spend more than an hour on anything every day, you’d probably find they spend less time on other things that those who don’t focus that much on one thing. Spend an hour playing golf every day? You probably spend less time with family than those who don’t play so much golf. Meanwhile, as for the claims of those internet users being loners, it appears the study actually notes that people who spend a lot of time are still perfectly social. Apparently they just discovered what plenty of other studies have noted for years as well: the internet is a communications tool, and people use it to socialize (wow! really?). So, can we please stop with these types of studies that make huge generalizations that don’t really stand up?

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Comments on “Now The Internet Makes You Neglect Family And Chores?”

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priyanka says:

Re: Re: Re:hey!want ur opinionz plzzzz....hope u wud s

actually am a student of india
am takin part as an interjector in a debate and we have the topic….”internet,cellphones,television making people lazy”..i have to ask questions to the ppl both for an against the topic…so if you guys could help me out!
i just need ur opinionz so that i can accordingly frame questions…..thanx
would be awaiting ur responses..

Amy Alkon (user link) says:

Last night, I went out for drinks with a woman who comments on my blog. Didn’t know her (at least, not in person) until last night. My lawyer, I met in a chat room on AOL in the early 90s (don’t laugh, she works for a big entertainment law firm here — she’s saved my ass a number of times…and at the friend discount rate). I became friends with many very interesting people I never would’ve met through the Internet. And there’s a community of people I haven’t met personally, that I encounter every day on my blog. My boyfriend video iChats every day with his 84-year-old mother across the country. My friend’s 84-year-old mother wants my boyfriend’s mom’s e-mail address so they can be penpals. And this is just the tip of the “I”ceberg. In other words, the idea that the Internet is for loners is an idea by idiots.

MadMarc says:

Re: You know what they say...

To the comment about Lies and Statistics….

My Girlfriend works with statistics, now…. my opion on them is that they are good 4 certine things.. otherwise… there full of Sh*t… Statistics give an Average, not everything is average,,, which means that the statistics with it are false… For example.. People useing the internet for more then an hour a day…… say there 2 ppl use it 45mins a day… 3 ppl use for 60 mins a day.. and 2 ppl use for more then 60 mins… the average on that is 3ppl… even though there are 7ppl in the stats… which means.. its sh*t… dont know if ur still reading this dribble… and that was a verry vage example… but basicly.. i think ppl that use the net for more then an hour a day have a hobby… like a grandma that knits for more then hour a day… Both can become obsessive… but thats what hobbys are about… what we need to focus on is those using the net for WRONG reasons… … such as.. peadoes, fraudsters etc,etc… those are the ones i wanna see sh*t statistics on….

anyway… thanks for reading my dribble… lol…

Mark (user link) says:

Calculation Method?

How is time spent on the internet measured for these studies?

Depending on how you look at things, one could say that many households spend most of their non sleeping time on the internet.

After the Wife and I get home from work, we of course check our personal email, respond to a few – post some witty comments on an e-vite response. I’ll check wunderground for the latest and greatest (checking the extreme locations – Death Valley CA and Vostok AQ).

The laptops then go on the coffee table and we go on about our night. Through the random TV Show recorded on one of the Tivo boxes, we will look up an actor on IMDB, or do a search on alltunes for a particular band we see/hear.

If we get a call from a friend who says that a show they are watching is something we need to get a season pass to, we will of course grab our laptops to add that show to our lineup.

Oh, and email – let’s not leave email out.

Let us not forget RSS!

Anyhow, with all the activities we do during a normal day – how is 1 hour spent online a valid number?

ched (user link) says:

It's called responsibility

someone invented beer – it’s bad for you, someone invented guns – they’re bad for you, someone invented TV, Radio, cell-phones ….

It just seems to me that people are always trying to place the blame anywhere but where it belongs. If you neglect family, ignore your spose. the fault lies with the PERSON who is doing wrong – not some device they’re using.

Sandbomb says:


well, umm, i dont really ave any real friends in life. I think it kinda has to do something about my personality, but the internet has given me a chance to pick myself up and find people online who have helped me be raise my confidence. Also i found people who loved me for who i am. Also i might be a loner…there’s nothing wrong with it, i still go out and see the world. i still have fun with te few real friends i have. but going on the internet is the same as watching television, watching a game, going out with a friend, drawing or any other activity to fill up time. dont get what the deal is. witout it id probably be so miserable id cry everynight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Now I don’t want to stand up for the dolts who did the study, because they’ve got a serious case of stat-skewism that needs some professional attention. But, you can’t deny that SOME of the people who spend a lot of time on the internet do this because they prefer it to talking and/or physically interacting with people. It’s just easier for them, for whatever respective reason.

By a standard that says being social involves interacting with people in the physical world (which I, personally, believe is more fulfilling than anything online – but that’s just my experience) is a major element, then yes, some people who spend a lot of time on the internet have poorer social lives than some other people.

But nevertheless, 1 hour is definitely a silly number. I almost always spend at least a few hours every day on the internet, but I also spend 8 hours a day in a very social workplace and at least a couple hours reading, practicing musical instruments, excercising, etc.

So quite frankly I’d just forget this silly survey ever even happenened and go on with my life.

JackAlias says:

this stuff always makes me wonder who it was that first insisted that people have social lives anyways? And why is so

important? The largest segment of the popuation that routinely gets criticized for not having social lives are usually hackers/dorks/science types etc. I don’t know about you guys, but since almost everything we take for granted nowadays: computers, medical technologies, weather satellites etc, was invented and created by people that were “loner types”. I can’t see why its such a bad thing. I for one am glad these people chose to immerse themselves in their work, instead of sitting around drinking margaritas, eating overpriced appetizers and “socializing”.

Brad Barnes says:

Just look in any online game source and see the losers that sit in there for hours on end. One hour per day would be acceptable but there are many people that live in chatrooms and actually spend money for “game cheats” just so they can have a nifty score along side their catchy online ID. Whoever created the phrase “get a life” must have had a vision of the internet.

Whatever he said says:

valid study

We need to know the impact of this stuff regardless of how we feel. Sci-Fi writers have played with this topic for a long time — more than one has suggested a future where physical human contact is all but extinct.

Native American tradition holds that we are responsible for the next 7 generations of decendents. We are in the infancy of the internet, but in 7 generations stuff we dream about today will be ancient technology.

There will always be introverts and extroverts, there will always be the lazy and the ambitious, and there will always be good studies and bad studies — and there will always be posters and flamers keeping things in check .. I hope.

Xcetron says:

Watch this, in a couple of years when people develop VR, its gonna be blamed as well.

-Its too realistic, so VR games might make people go off and shoot down their school mates.

then its gonna get some stupid restriction like if youre under 15 you cant use it.

then theres gonna be a social place for VR.

then Congress will try to ban it after a couple cases of internet stalkers.

the cycle continues.

C-HEN says:

i’ve always thought it kinda funny how if you tell people that you spend a lot of time on the internet or playing games, they think that you’re socially devoid and just wasting time. but turn it around and say that you spend a lot of time reading books, all of a sudden people are impressed because society deems that acceptable. even though reading, which is usually done alone, detracts you even more from reality and social interaction, as well as leaving you less time to do other stuff during the day. its funny how technology is viewed by many as this “big, bad” force out there making people lazy and lonely. oh well, it really never ends.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Just look in any online game source and see the losers that sit in there for hours on end. One hour per day would be acceptable but there are many people that live in chatrooms and actually spend money for “game cheats” just so they can have a nifty score along side their catchy online ID. Whoever created the phrase “get a life” must have had a vision of the internet.”

Just look at any public library and see the losers that sit in there for hours on end. On hour per day would be acceptable but there are many people that live in books and actually spend mondey for “hard copies” just so they can actually improve their understanding. Whoever created the phrase “get a life” must have had a vision of the printing press.

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