Contrasting with the stereotype of the lone computer geek, Internet users are more likely to join groups in the real world and be active in them than those who don't go online, according to a study released yesterday by Pew Internet.
Based on a survey, the "Social Side of the Internet" report found that 80 percent of Internet users participate in voluntary organizations, compared with 56 percent of non-Internet users.
Further, those who tap into social networks on the Web are even more likely to be active. Among those polled, 82 percent of the Facebook users and 85 percent of the Twitter users said they're joiners of groups. That compares with 77 percent of non-Facebook users and 79 percent of non-Twitter users who said the same.
The survey found that Internet users also participate more heavily in their groups than do non-Internet users by donating more money, volunteering, taking leadership roles, and attending meetings. Church and spiritual groups were among the most popular organizations cited by those involved in a group. Also high on the list were sports and recreational leagues, consumers groups, volunteer organizations, and trade associations.
Group joiners touted the Internet as an important tool for running a group. Among those polled, 69 percent said their groups have active Web sites, 77 percent said their groups organize activities and reach out to members via e-mail, and 40 percent host their own online discussion forums.
Asked why they're part of a group, 59 percent of the respondents said they see group membership as way to accomplish something that they couldn't on their own. Almost the same number (57 percent) cited keeping up with news and information as another key reason.
"One of the striking things in these data is how purposeful people are as they become active with groups," Kristen Purcell, research director at Pew Internet and co-author of the report, said in a statement. "Many enjoy the social dimensions of involvement, but what they really want is to have impact. Most have felt proud of a group they belong to in the past year and just under half say they accomplished something they couldn't have accomplished on their own."
Pew's study is based on a series of telephone interviews conducted from November 23 to December 21, which reached 2,303 adults, ages 18 and older.