chapter  15
19 Pages

What makes the internet a place to seek social support?

Social support plays an important role in everyday life and it may contribute to mental as well as physical wellbeing (Albrecht & goldsmith, 2003; Burleson et al., 1994; Heany & Israel, 1995; Uchino et al., 1996). Social support is found to be beneficial for people who go through a period of uncertainty or anxiety caused by a traumatic experience (Leffler & Dembert, 1998; Pennebaker & Harber, 1993), feel lonely or isolated because of a stigmatized personal characteristic (such as a deviant sexual preference, an extreme political or religious opinion, a history of imprisonment, etc., see: Davison et al., 2000; McKenna & Bargh, 1998) and may help people who suffer from disorders such as depression, anxiety, obesity,

cancer, HIV, etc (see: Cohen & Syme, 1985). Social support, consisting of a range of assistances that people can provide to one another in order to improve the quality of life, is found to be important because it can reduce feelings of stress, loneliness, or isolation; can provide people with useful knowledge and information; and may teach people strategies that help them to cope with the situation they are facing (Albrecht & Adelman, 1987; Buunk & Hoorens, 1992; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Colvin et al., 2004; House & Kahn, 1985; Thoits, 1995).