A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says:
The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in a series of reports starting in May 2000, has found that email and the Internet foster social connectedness. Our first report, "Tracking Life Online," found that Internet users perceive email as a valuable way to stay in touch with family and friends, with many people-especially women-reporting that email helps them feel more connected to their families and friends. Other Pew Internet Project reports underscore how the Internet has been integrated into people's social lives in positive ways. Online communities are very popular and many participants report that cyber communities result in meaningful social contacts. Senior citizens embrace email as a way to keep up with children and grandchildren, and teenagers are among the most ardent Internet surfers. Teens "hang out" online in ways their parents did on the telephone or at the burger shop.
As I just said elsewhere, this sort of mainstreaming of the Internet is a good thing, despite the naysaying that still exists from some quarters (both offline anti-Internet forces, and online good-old-days-nostalgia curmudgeons).