Internet Communication Versus Face-to-face Interaction in Quality of Life
This study seeks to understand the role of the Internet in quality of life (QoL). Specifically, it examines the question of whether Internet communication serves, like face-to-face interactions, to enhance quality of life. It is hypothesized that the use of the Internet for interpersonal communication can improve quality of life among Internet users, just like face-to-face communication in everyday life. Sample survey data were collected in four Chinese cities, namely Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, and Wuhan, to serve as replicates to test the hypothesis. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) of Diener (1984) was used to measure quality of life in the four cities. It was found that contrary to our expectation, Internet communication cannot predict quality of life while face-to-face communication with friends and family members can. The result was the same across the four Chinese cities. Possible reasons for this finding are examined and discussed.
KeywordsQuality of life Internet communication Interpersonal relationship Satisfaction with life Social support Social interactions
Part of this research was supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (RGC Ref: CUHK 4315/01H). The support from the Centre for Quality of Life at the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong is also gratefully acknowledged.
- Beijing City Administration Portal. (2009). Beijing figures. Retrieved from www.beijing.gov.cn/rwbj/bjgm/bjsz/t354363.htm.
- Birdwhistell, R. (1970). Kinesics and context. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
- Boase, J., Horrigan, J., Wellman, B., & Rainie, L. (2006). The strength of internet ties. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2006/The-Strength-of-Internet-Ties.aspx.
- Culnan, M., & Markus, M. (1987). Information technologies. In F. Jablin, L. Putnam, K. Roberts, & L. Porter (Eds.), Handbook of organizational communication: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 420–443). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Daft, R., & Lengel, R. (1984). Information richness: A new approach to managerial behavior and organization design. In M. Staw & L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 6, pp. 191–233). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
- Daft, R., & Lengel, R. (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science, 32, 554–571.Google Scholar
- Department of Budget, Accounting & Statistics, Taipei Government. (2008). Significant statistical indicators in recent years. (in Chinese). Retrieved from http://w2.dbas.taipei.gov.tw/news_weekly/stindex/A_96.pdf.
- Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 73, 1361–1380.Google Scholar
- Hampton, K, Sessions, L., Her, E., & Rainie, L. (2009). Social isolation and new technology. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/18–Social-Isolation-and-New-Technology.aspx.
- Hong Kong Government. (2008). Hong Kong statistics yearbook (2008th ed.). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Google Scholar
- Krackhardt, D. (1994). The strength of strong ties: The importance of Philos in organizations. In N. Nohria & R. Eccles (Eds.), Networks and organizations: Structure, form, and action. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
- Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Smith, A., & Macgill, A. (2007). Teens and social media. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2007/Teens-and-Social-Media.aspx.
- Ni, P. F. (2007). Report on the competitive power of Chinese cities. Beijing: Social Science Literature Press. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Rice, R. (1984). Mediated group communication. In R. Rice & Associates (Ed.), The new media: Communication, research, and technology (pp. 129–156). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunication. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Wellman, B., Smith, A., Wells, A., & Kennedy, T. (2008). Networked families. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Networked-Families.aspx.
- Wuhan Statistics Bureau. (2008). Wuhan statistics yearbook, 2008. (in Chinese). Retrieved from www.whtj.gov.cn/documents/tjnj2008/index.htm.