Ballet’s program shows that technology can increase ‘face-time’

    When families leave the Nutcracker they normally just bundle up the kids and go. But last week kids stopped to send a text-message about their favorite scenes and characters to a computer monitor set up in the lobby, and they lingered in order to compare their favorite parts with other kids.

    Some of the kids at the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker reacted to a recent performance with a cell phone text message as soon as the dancers left the stage. They were part of an effort to encourage audiences to more deeply participate in cultural events by using networking technology. A new study shows the ballet may be on the right track.

    When families leave the Nutcracker they normally just bundle up the kids and go. But last week kids stopped to send a text-message about their favorite scenes and characters to a computer monitor set up in the lobby, and they lingered in order to compare their favorite parts with other kids.

    A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Center shows that – contrary to critics’ worries – social networking tools are not creating a socially stunted nation of isolated shut-ins. Chief researcher Keith Hampton at the Annenberg School for Communication says people are more engaged because of blogs and Tweets, but our social needs may be changing.

    Hampton: A lot of Americans had people who were especially significant in their lives but who didn’t discuss important matters with. It could be that we’re no longer discussing important matters with a small set of people – but discussing specific matters with a very large number of people.

    The Pew study shows people who have active online social networks tend to be more engaged with local civic and neighborhood issues.

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