Skip to main content

Today’s teens prefer to make and keep friendships online, rather than off

teens prefer friends online facebook hello
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The advent of social media has long been touted as a means for connecting the world — bringing people together, allowing for the maintenance of old friendships and relationships, and the proliferation of new ones. But now, in a rather surprising turn of events, it appears that with the increased capacity for digital connectivity, in-person interactions may in fact be diminishing. Rather than serving as a catalyst for actual meetings, social media and technology have become alternate realities of sorts, where friends are met, made, and kept. As per a new Pew Research Center study entitled “Teens, Technology, and Friendships,” today’s adolescents actually prefer to make friends online, and keep their relationship to the confines of the Internet.

According to study results, “Fully 57 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online,with 29 percent of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20 percent of all teens have met an online friend in person.” Moreover, even within friendships that were made offline: “Just 25 percent of teens spend time with friends in person (outside of school) on a daily basis.” Otherwise, generally speaking, the vast majority of communication and interaction is done via text, Facebook, or some other social media platform.

This new trend raises a number of provocative questions — have the requirements for friendship and being a good friend changed over the last few years with the rise of the digital age? Whereas “being there” for a friend generally seems to mean being physically present at certain crucial points, perhaps this is no longer necessary — maybe now, feeling connected to another human being doesn’t require any sort of physical closeness. But along the same vein, how well can you really get to know a person based purely on online interactions? Is it perhaps possible that the lack of an in-person meeting actually makes for a more meaningful, authentic relationship, unadulterated by the pitfalls that can accompany physicality?

As the very definition of friendship continues to evolve with the increasing prevalence of social media and the Internet, it seems more and more likely that the way in which we interact and perhaps even relate to one another will soon begin to change as well. Whereas before, being someone’s Facebook friend was lower on the totem pole than being someone’s “real” friend, we may have to re-examine that hierarchy very soon.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
Millennials would rather raise their credit score than Instagram follower count
millennials credit score social media experian study priscilla du preez vkmh9bvnvry unsplash

Think what you want about millennials, but a new survey suggests most of them place higher importance on their credit score than their social media follower count. According to a recent survey by Experian, 59% of millennials believe the most important rating to increase is credit scores, not social media approval.

Instagram follower counts came in second as the most important “score” to increase, followed by Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, Facebook friends, Uber/Lyft/Via ratings, Snapchat friends, and video game kill scores. While 19% of the respondents said social media was an obsession, 49% said credit score was the rating that impacts their life most.

Read more
We now have scientific proof that quitting Facebook makes you less depressed

There’s now scientific proof of what we already knew: Quitting Facebook is beneficial for your health. 

A new report titled “The Economic Effects of Facebook” was published this week online in the journal Experimental Economics. The study looked at two groups of Texas A&M student participants in 2017: Those who went off Facebook for a week and those who remained on the social media platform during that period. The findings, discussed in Nieman Lab, were that the students who were off of Facebook consumed less news and also reported greater overall well-being. 

Read more
Facebook likely knew about Cambridge Analytica much earlier than we thought
Zuckerberg Testimony Congress

Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress on April 10, 2018. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Newly-released documents suggest that Facebook knew about the Cambridge Analytica scandal much earlier than we originally thought.
Documents suggest that Facebook knew the company was gathering user profile data three months before the press revealed that the firm was using profile data to target voters during the 2016 elections, CNBC reports.
Internal emails released by Facebook suggest that the social network had concerns about Cambridge Analytica as well as several other companies that were using data in ways that potentially violate Facebook policies as early as September 2015. Those documents suggested that Facebook employees planned to reach out to the companies in question to determine how they were using Facebook’s data. One email sent on September 30, 2015 speculatd that "these apps' data-scraping activity is likely non-compliant" with Facebook's policies. 
Facebook made a joint statement Friday about the issue along with District of Columbia Attorney General. It also released a separate statement explaining the documents, which it says hold the potential for confusion -- confusion it wanted to preemptively clear up.

"There is no substantively new information in this document and the issues have been previously reported," a blog post posted by Paul Grewal, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Facebook reads."As we have said many times, including last week to a British parliamentary committee, these are two distinct issues. One involved unconfirmed reports of scraping — accessing or collecting public data from our products using automated means — and the other involved policy violations by Aleksandr Kogan, an app developer who sold user data to Cambridge Analytica. This document proves the issues are separate; conflating them has the potential to mislead people."

Read more