SAN FRANCISCO: The online world is where it’s at for teens looking to make friends.
A study found more than half of US teens have met new friends through social networks or videogame forums.
Friendships made on the Internet tend to remain virtual, however, with only 20% reporting they have met an online friend in the flesh, the Pew Research Centre study found.
“Mobile phones, social media, and for boys, online videogaming, have become deeply enmeshed in creating and maintaining teen friendships,” said Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart, lead author on the report.
“In many instances, these technologies make teens feel closer and more connected to their friends.”
Some 57% of teens aged 13 to 17 surveyed said they had made a friend online, with 29% claiming to have made five or more new friends that way.
Social media venues such as Facebook and Instagram were prime arenas for meeting new friends, with 64% of teens saying they found pals there.
Girls were more likely to make new friends on social networks, while boys were much more inclined to connect with new friends while playing videogames online, according to the study.
Nearly three-quarters of teens surveyed said they have access to smartphones, and instant messaging was a preferred method of communicating with friends.
“Teenagers always spend a lot of time with their friends in person, especially in schools,” Lenhart said.
“But cellphones, social media, and for boys, online video games are becoming more deeply involved in the creation and maintenance of friendships.”
Seventy percent of social-media using teens said that it made them feel better connected to friends, but 88% of that group felt that people share too much information at those venues.
The online survey conducted by GfK Group received responses from 1,060 teens through a parent or guardian from Sept 25 to Oct 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015. The margin of error was estimated at 3.7 percentage points. – AFP
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