Many parents worry about how much time teenagers spend texting, sharing selfies and engaging in other online activities with their friends and they are absolutely right.
“The problem with online friendship is that when things go wrong, we split. When I say something that makes you uncomfortable, or when you offend me, we’ll go our separate ways more often than not. And this flies in the face of how people become friends.”
A decade or so ago, we started doing something we’ve never done before.
We started making friends with people we had never met. Sure, we used to do pen pals and long-distance relationships, but we’ve never had a 24/7 shared connection as is now available to us, thanks to the web.
Something odd happens with this heightened level of intimacy without commitment. People get sensitive.
However, a study by researchers in London in the UK, found that many of these digital behaviours serve the same purpose and encompass the same core qualities as face-to-face relationships.
“Increased peer interaction in cyberspace has led to growing concern that today’s adolescent friendships are now less intimate and an inadequate substitute for those back in the day that took place in person,” said Rich, a researcher from London, UK.
The researchers identified six core characteristics of offline friendships – self-disclosure, validation, companionship, instrumental support, conflict and conflict resolution – and their digital parallels.
For each quality, they noted ways in which online interfaces corresponded with or differed from in-person communication. The results are published.
The researchers found that digital exchanges offer less benefits in some areas and carry increased risks in others.