Virtual Friendships: Helping or Hindering our Youth?

These days everyone is on his or her cell phone or computer texting friends or updating their social media sites. Children are getting cell phones at a younger age and are substituting face-to-face conversation or phone calls with text messages. One question that psychologists are asking is how this is affecting friendships for adolescents. According to article 14, R U Friends 4 Real, some researchers have found that it changes social development and teens are not learning the give and take of conversation. The time teenagers spend online is time they could be spending with friends and will ultimately have a negative affect their social support system. As the article says, what remains to be seen is how these virtual friendships will affect teen development and how they will develop relationships in adulthood.


On the other hand, teenagers who would otherwise be outcasts have been able to post their opinions online and make virtual friends via the Internet. In these types of situations, virtual friendships are actually helping the individual because it gives socially anxious teens a voice. In one study, researchers found that spending time online boosted the self-esteem of teens that would otherwise be outcasts. Virtual friendships can both help and hinder teenagers. It is up to the parents to monitor how much time their children are spending online or on their phone and demand that they spend time having face-to-face interactions with their friends.

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