Social support and digital inequality: Does Internet use magnify or mitigate traditional inequities in support availability?

Stephen A Rains, Eric Tsetsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested competing predictions about the implications of Internet use for traditional inequities in social support availability. Using survey data collected as part of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, inequities in social support availability stemming from demographic and network-related factors were examined among non-users, Internet users, and Internet users who also participated in a social network site (SNS). The results offered evidence consistent with the social compensation perspective. Traditional inequities in support availability related to age, race, and total network size persisted among respondents who did not use the Internet, but were less evident or absent among Internet users and/or Internet users who participated in an SNS. Using the Internet to connect with others appeared to be an important mechanism through which inequality in support availability was mitigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-74
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume84
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Keywords

  • digital inequality
  • Internet access
  • Internet non-users
  • Internet use
  • social compensation
  • social enhancement
  • social media
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication

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