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Fast internet speeds are linked to less social work: Study



From a social point of view, the improvement in broadband coverage does not seem to have only positive effects, as is often assumed. According to data from Great Britain, social engagement is declining. It’s almost as if the growing useful supply that comes with faster internet connections will discourage people from contributing to society. The effect is not limited to certain areas, but in principle extends through all possible forms of volunteer work, according to a report in the newspaper The guardian appears.

According to a study by Cardiff University and Sapienza University in Rome, using data from some 450,000 people, volunteering in the immediate vicinity of telecommunications company nodes where faster internet connections were available was more than 10 percent lower. Participation in political parties even fell by 19 percent within a radius of 1.8 kilometers around the network nodes. The degree of trade union organization was also worse here than in comparable regions.

However, the effect was not only seen in the distances. The overall bandwidth increase from 2005 to 2018 was also accompanied by a decrease in volunteering, while time actively spent using the Internet increased. Interestingly, there was no effect on people’s contacts with family and close friends. The authors of the study also put forth the claim that this phenomenon may have contributed to fostering populism. Because involving people in social initiatives and organizations is also a “school of democracy” in which people learn to work together. Ultimately, if this approach leads to substantiation, it is important to look for suitable alternatives or to find ways to strengthen involvement again.