The internet plays an important part in our daily lives. In this paper, we ask whether internet use is negatively related to civic life when focusing specifically on formal volunteering. Furthermore, we account for group-specific and activity-specific internet effects. Using a representative population sample of Switzerland, we show that internet use decreases the probability of undertaking voluntary work. This result is qualified in two respects: First, we find that the negative relationship between internet use and volunteering is more powerful among young people than older adults who are more likely to volunteer when they use the internet. Second, the use of social networking sites seems to mitigate the negative influence of internet use on volunteering.
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“This study has been realised using the data collected by the Swiss Household Panel (SHP), which is based at the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS. The project is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation”.
A report on elderly volunteering in Europe indicates that the potential of older people has to be acknowledged to encourage them to volunteer (Ehlers et al. 2011).
As internet measures were only included in the 18th wave of the SHP, we do not have panel data but only a cross-sectional sample.
It has to be noted that the questionnaire does not differentiate between offline and online volunteering. We therefore cannot make any inferences about online volunteering (Ackermann and Manatschal 2018).
Interaction with education, gender, nationality and duration of residence do not show significant results, neither for SNS sample splits nor for the full sample.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Appendix: Variables, Operationalisation, Descriptive Statistics and Source
Appendix: Variables, Operationalisation, Descriptive Statistics and Source
See Table 3.
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Filsinger, M., Freitag, M. Internet Use and Volunteering: Relationships and Differences Across Age and Applications. Voluntas 30, 87–97 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0045-4
- Social media
- Voluntary organisations
- Social networking sites