Times have surely changed. More so, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center. According to this study, more than half teens in the US are now making new friends online on social networks or video game forums. However, these friendships largely remain virtual-only, with only 20 percent reporting that they have met their virtual friends in the flesh.
According to researcher Amanda Lenhart, the author of this report “Mobile phones, social media, and for boys, online video gaming, have become deeply enmeshed in creating and maintaining teen friendships.”
According the survey, 57 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 said that they have made at least one friend online, while 29 percent said that they’ve made as many as five or more friends on the Internet. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social networks for making new friends, as 64 percent taking the survey said that they met new people that way. 68 percent of those also said they took the help of social media networks in difficult times. In terms of gender, girls usually make new friends on social networking sites while boys usually do so while playing video games or on video game forums.
Trust is also different meaning for these teenagers as 19 percent of them described sharing passwords not for cyberbullying but to build trust and intimacy amongst each other. So instead of building trust and relationships in the real world, more and more teens these days are going the virtual way to do so.
This virtual world only increasing by the minute, as a new breed of social websites and apps like Snapchat are coming. Smartphones are playing a key role here as most of the teenagers have easier access to them now than it was a few years back. So although teens still spend a lot a lot of time offline with their friends, but this virtual world is becoming more deeply involved in the maintenance of their relationships.
[ Source ]