While the average size and diversity of core discussion networks — the circle of friends and relatives with whom people typically discuss important matters — have declined for Americans since 1985, a survey finds that participation in internet activities is associated with larger and more diverse social groups. Fewer than half of Americans (45%) discuss important matters with someone who is not a family member, but internet users are 55% more likely to have a non-family social contact and 38% less likely to rely exclusively on their spouse/partner as discussion confidants. On average, the size of core discussion networks is 9% larger for those who share photos online and 9% bigger for those who use instant messaging. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.