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Americans' Social Circle Decreasing

As reported in The New York Times, in spite of Facebook and Twitter, the size of the average American’s social circle is smaller today than 20 years ago. Yet, contrary to popular opinion, use of cell phones and the Internet is not to blame, according to a new Pew Internet and American Life study. People who regularly use digital technologies are more social than the average American and more likely to visit parks and cafes or volunteer for local organizations. However, people who use social networks are 30% less likely to know their neighbors and 26% less likely to provide them companionship. The Pew report did find that only 6% of Americans have no friends, a rate that has held steady for 25 years. The circle of close friends for mobile phone users tends to be 12% larger than for nonusers. People who share online photos or instant messages have 9% larger social circles than nonusers. Yet, people still prefer face-to-face communication as the primary means to stay in touch with friends and family (people see loved ones in person an average of 210 days a year). Respondents said that they were in touch via mobile phone an average of 195 days a year.