Friendships made on the Internet generally tend to remain virtual. The Pew Research Center study revealed that more than half of US teens have met new friends through social networks or video game forums. However, only 20% of them have reported meeting an online friend in the flesh.
Amanda Lenhart, lead author on the report, said, "Mobile phones, social media, and for boys, online video gaming, have become deeply enmeshed in creating and maintaining teen friendships. In many instances, these technologies make teens feel closer and more connected to their friends."
Some 57% of teens aged 13 to 17 years surveyed said that they had made a friend online, with 29% claimed 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. The study suggested that girls were more likely to make new friends on social networks, while boys were much more inclined to connect with new friends while playing video games online.
Nearly three-quarters of teens surveyed said that they have access to smartphones, and instant messaging as a preferred method of communicating with friends. Lenhart said, "Teenagers always spend a lot of time with their friends in person, especially in schools. But cellphones, social media, and for boys, online video games are becoming more deeply involved in the creation and maintenance of friendships."
70% 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. This online survey conducted by GfK Group received responses from 1,060 teens through a parent or guardian from September 25 to October 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015. The margin of error was estimated at 3.7%.