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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : June 11, 2010

Pew: Locals log on to keep abreast of community issues

While traditional methods of keeping in touch with local community issues, such as face-to-face encounters and telephone, remain the dominant communication channels the Internet is slowing increasing its role, too.

by Helen Leggatt

pewinternet.gifPew Internet has released a new report that looks at the Internet's role in local community communication between adults. While face-to-face conversation remains the main way of keeping up with what's going on in the area (46%) the telephone is used by around one in five (21%).

Not far behind is the use of digital tools to communicate with neighbors, found Pew's "Neighbors Online" report, with a variety of media being used. Of the 20% who use digital tools to talk to neighbors and keep abreast of local issues 21% do so via blogs, 9% use email and 4% use text messaging. Even social networks (4%) and Twitter (2%) were being implemented.

In fact, far from isolating people and turning them into hermits, Pew found that Internet users were more likely than non-Internet users to get together with their neighbours in real life - 50% vs. 35%. The exception being social network users who, found Pew, are 30% less likely to know their neighbors.

"Even people who don't know their neighbors and may not interact personally around issues in their neighborhood are still interested in these issues and are interacting about them in different ways," said Aaron Smith, a research specialist with the Pew Research Center who wrote and conducted the study.

"Digital tools provide an avenue for people who may not know their neighbors by name and aren't comfortable with those interactions."

Tags: communications, Internet, local community, social media

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