Nonrecursive models of internet use and community engagement: Questioning whether time spent online erodes social capital

Dhavan Shah, Michael Schmierbach, Joshua Hawkins, Rodolfo Espino, Janet Donavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

106 Scopus citations


Although some argue that Internet use may erode involvement in public life, the most common Internet behaviors, social communication and information searching, may actually foster social and civic participation. To examine this possibility, we test a series of non-recursive models using a national survey of nearly 3,400 respondents. Two-stage least squares regressions were performed to simultaneously test the reciprocal relationship between frequency of Internet use (i.e., hours per day) and three sets of community engagement behaviors: informal social interaction, attendance at public events, and participation in civic volunteerism (i.e., annual frequency). Time spent online has a positive relationship with public attendance and civic volunteerism. No evidence of time displacement from frequency of Internet use is observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)964-987
Number of pages24
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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