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David Baxter

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Social Anxiety Disorder, The Internet and College Students
By John M. Grohol
Fri, Oct 12 2007

You?d think that if you suffered from social anxiety disorder and were a college student, the Internet would offer you an ideal place to socialize and have friends, with none of the anxiety typically associated with this disorder.

According to recent research, however, you?d be wrong. Well, mostly wrong anyway.

In a recent study of 666 college students at West Virginia University, the researchers found that individuals low in social anxiety used blogs significantly more than those with high social anxiety.

The two groups did not significantly differ in the email or IM use.

However, those scoring high in social anxiety were 9 times more likely to use a webcam to maintain their relationships. And individuals who scored highly specifically in dating anxiety symptoms were 13 times more likely to use a webcam to maintain their relationships.

The researchers, Stevens and Morris, attributed the high webcam use amongst those with social anxiety to the fact that the Internet acts as a buffer between them and another person. This suggests that people with social anxiety are perhaps more comfortable with this modality of social interaction ? through a technology intermediary ? than face-to-face interactions. Those low in social anxiety have less need for using technology as a communications intermediary, because they don?t feel the same levels of anxiety when talking with their friends or dates.

Reference: Stevens, S.B. & Morris, T.L. (2007). College dating and social anxiety: Using the Internet as a means of connecting to others. CyberPsychology & Behavior - 10(5):680.
 

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