If the younger generation is any indication of how people will live, work, and interact in the future, today’s teens are media omnivores who will set new standards for social communication. In a new study from the Pew Research Center that takes a look at how friendships are formed and maintained in the digital age, it was found that teens are more likely to text message with friends everyday (55%) than interact with them in person every day (25%). The results, obtained from a national survey and in-person focus groups of 13 to 17 year olds, also found that other popular communication methods include talking on the phone, instant messaging, social media, video chat, video games, and messaging apps.
Teens are also not only keeping in touch with established friends online, but are also making new friends. More than half (57%) of teens have made at least one new friend online. However, it is also likely that these friendships will remain exclusively online. The most popular forums for teens to meet and socialize online are social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as playing networked video games. Girls are more likely to meet friends through social networks than boys (78% vs. 52% of boys), and boys are much more likely to meet through online video games (57% vs. 13% of girls).
Despite parental concerns, teens are meeting up in online environments more and more. Of all of the top places where teens get together with close friends, online environments are now the third most common (with 55% of teens saying they spend time with friends regularly online). It is still unclear whether these online interactions have an overall positive or negative impact. More than four-fifths (83%) of teens say that social media helps them to feel more connected to friends’ lives, but some teens do experience negative consequences such as pressure to make themselves look better, having friends that start drama online, and others posting exclusionary or negative comments.
If libraries are to remain vibrant places for teens to gather and interact in the future, they will need to consider ways in which they can harness the fluid and quickly changing social dynamics of this demographic.
You can access the full report on “Teens, Technology & Friendships” here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.