Teenagers nowadays are not afraid of the online social experience as they might have been a few years ago. When the Internet first emerged, parents were concerned about the safety of their children and encouraged them not to talk to strangers too much. But that time is long gone.
Six in 10 youngsters admit to having met at least 1 new friend on the Internet. Moreover, young people communicate on social networks and in videogames more than they spend time face to face. And it doesn’t stop here: around 33 percent of the “new friend online” situations actually end up in an in-person meeting.
These are not just random facts, they are the result of a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center. Their goal was to further understand what impact the Internet has on American teens, how they grow up in society and how their identity evolves. In short, the major difference is that people’s internet relationships are just as solid as real life ones.
The popularity of gadgets and social media have reshaped the way children perceive the world and while we are not exactly aware of where this phenomenon will take us, scientist do point out that parents and children’s differences can be a cause for great challenges.
Rather than worrying about going out with friends or missing out the football game across the street, children now panic when they do not participate in online discussions, when their Facebook photo is not cool enough and they anxiety is paired with the constant pressure of maintaining a great reputation online.
Here is a quick glimpse at the survey’s results: 43% of the respondents made no friends online, 6% made one friend online, 22% made two to five online friends and 29% made more than 5 friends. One percent of the respondents did not answer. Now while the percentage of respondents who made no friends online looks high, the combined percentage of all other categories is 56.
Online gaming has become the dominant social activity for boys: 84 percent of them engage in some type of online video game while only 59 percent of girls attend these sort of games. Girls choose to stay connected via Twitter and Facebook, the majority of them opting for these social-media platforms.
It seems that, whether we like it or not, the internet has provided a new world for teens, a new experience that has made the line in between the virtual and the real one more blurred than in the past.
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