A new report from Australia’s leading academic’s provides a fascinating insight and perspectives of the impact of both the internet and social media on society down under. Professor Ian Young Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University states,
The results from ANUpoll are largely positive, and counter the pessimistic view that the Internet is undermining effective social relations and good citizenship. Frequent Internet users are not more socially disengaged than their counterparts who rely on personal interaction. They are at least as good citizens, and report similar or higher levels of social capital.
Furthermore as a precursor to the findings of the report Ian Young comments,
“The Internet has revolutionised our society in ways that few of us could have imagined even two decades ago.
The nature and conduct of business, politics, social relations and much else are being influenced in profound ways by how we use the Internet in our everyday lives.
The latest ANUpoll examines how the Internet is changing society, social relations and citizenship.
We are all familiar with our children spending hours in front of their computers visiting websites and interacting with others around the world.
The eighth ANUpoll in the series asks whether these virtual contacts are less important than personal ones in building a strong society. And does a reliance on virtual over personal contact have implications for the quality of citizenship?”
Keypoints summary and findings of the survey in the report:
Internet use and civil society
>>A total of 82 per cent of respondents have broadband access – with frequent Internet users helping to build bonding and bridging forms of social interaction.
Household Internet use
>>A total of 82 per cent of respondents report having broadband access with only two per cent saying that they have dial-up access, with around two-thirds of respondents saying they use the Internet at least once a day.
Internet use and social capital
>>Around one-third of respondents say that the Internet helped them interact with people of a different race from their own.
>>Just over half of respondents say that the Internet helped them interact with people from other countries.
Internet use and good citizenship
>>Frequent Internet use does not necessarily lead to a more atomised and individualistic society.
>>70 per cent of frequent Internet users felt that to be a good citizen it was very important to support people who are worse off than themselves, and 86 per cent of frequent Internet users felt that to be a good citizen it was very important to report a crime if they witnessed one.
Internet use and political involvement
>>Online political activity complements, rather than replaces, traditional forms of political activity.
>>Around one in four respondents said they had visited the websites of political organisations or candidates and one in five said that they had forwarded electronic messages with political content.
>>Those who use the Internet frequently are more likely than those who use the Internet sparingly to be involved in political activity through virtual interactions.
Key trends: most important problems and political mood
>>The economy and jobs are viewed by the public as the most important problems facing Australia, with 19 per cent mentioning them, although this represents a substantial decline on earlier surveys conducted in 2009.
>>A large majority of Australians are satisfied with the way the country is heading, with little change since we first asked the question in early 2008.
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