Use of social network sites and instant messaging does not lead to increased offline social network size, or to emotionally closer relationships with offline network members

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2011 Apr;14(4):253-8. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0161. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


The effect of Internet use on social relationships is still a matter of intense debate. This study examined the relationships between use of social media (instant messaging and social network sites), network size, and emotional closeness in a sample of 117 individuals aged 18 to 63 years old. Time spent using social media was associated with a larger number of online social network "friends." However, time spent using social media was not associated with larger offline networks, or feeling emotionally closer to offline network members. Further, those that used social media, as compared to non-users of social media, did not have larger offline networks, and were not emotionally closer to offline network members. These results highlight the importance of considering potential time and cognitive constraints on offline social networks when examining the impact of social media use on social relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Computer Communication Networks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult