Online and hybrid methods of social connection have been explored in Swinburne University of Technology’s Social Innovation Research Institute (SUT)’s report, released in July this year.

Called Infrastructure for social connection: Researching the existing assets for creating social connectedness and identifying interventions, the project identifies social connection as “a critical outcome of community-based planning and activity.”

The ‘pro-connection’ spaces listed in the report included online and hybrid spaces, and digital connection is more relevant than ever in 2021.

Online platforms include social media, websites and blogs that allow users to chat or post content. Online spaces can include
or integrate emergent technology such as augmented reality games and smart home technology, and social media application features such as Facebook groups.

Hybrid spaces connect the online and the offline. During COVID-19, we have seen new online spaces emerging in community centres, who integrate online activities or places alongside traditional physical settings or experiences.

Research has found that “social connectedness can be increased by sharing situational information between smart home devices and users. It can also increase perceived social support as the user would see the smart home devices as family members or housemates living in the same space” (Lee et al., 2017, p.925).

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