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Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships

Edited By Kevin B. Wright and Lynne M. Webb

This is the first collection of readings on computer-mediated communication focusing exclusively on interpersonal interactions. Examining messages exchanged via email, Twitter, Facebook, websites, and blogs, the authors analyze communication issues of ongoing importance in relationships including deception, disclosure, identity, influence, perception, privacy, sexual fidelity, and social support. The book examines subjects that attract intense student interest – including online performance of gender, online dating, and using computer-mediated communication to achieve family/work life balance – and will inspire further research and course development in the area of computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. Because it provides a synthesis of ideas at the nexus of interpersonal communication theory and computer-mediated communication theory, the book can serve as a textbook for advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses.
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8. Personal Relationships and Computer-Mediated Support Groups (Kevin B. Wright / Ahlam Muhtaseb)

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Personal Relationships and Computer-Mediated Support Groups

Kevin B. Wright

Ahlam Muhtaseb

The Internet has become a widely used resource for obtaining social support within interpersonal relationships (Walther & Boyd, 2002), particularly in the context of health concerns (Neuhauser & Kreps, 2003; Wright & Bell, 2003). One popular way in which the Internet facilitates social support is through access to computer-mediated support groups: individuals interacting in groups using the Internet and the World Wide Web to exchange social support. Websites such as Yahoo! Groups, WebMD, and the American Cancer Society, for example, offer numerous asynchronous and real-time discussion forums where individuals concerned with a specific issue share information and offer emotional assistance. An estimated 90 million Americans have participated in some type of computer-mediated support group and that 1 in 4 people seeking information about disease join such groups (Horrigan & Rainie, 2002; Levy & Strombeck, 2002).

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