Last updated: August 16, 2011 - 8:37am
In the flurry of messages college students post on one another's Facebook pages, social scientists see something larger at work: Time spent online may be helping people learn to be more empathetic and make more friends in real life.
A growing body of research indicates the widespread use of texting, e-mailing or posting on social-media sites has social benefits. The studies fly in the face of the image of a child sitting lonely in front of a computer, or being bullied online. Several recent studies have found that digital communication can lead to more or better friendships online and off, greater honesty, faster intimacy in relationships and an increased sense of belonging, in addition to practical social benefits like an expanded circle for networking. On the whole, technology appears to enhance real-world relationships.