Online friendships more complicated than earlier thought

September 15, 2006 at 9:06 am Leave a comment

My children don’t spend a ton of time online, but they do communicate with their friends on the internet via MySpace. With all the spooky talk that TV pundits spout, particularly about MySpace, you would think that the internet is a space-age demon. It isn’t: as with anything else, it depends upon how the internet is used. A study last year in Cyberpsychology Behavior (yes, there is such a journal) looked a what influences online friendship formation. It also attempted to look at motives for online communication as potential explanations. Drawing on a sample of 493 adolescents, the study tested a path model of adolescent friendship formation. As predictors, it included introversion/extroversion, online self-disclosure, motive for social compensation, and frequency of online communication. The analysis showed that extroverted adolescents self-disclosed and communicated online more frequently, which, in turn, facilitated the formation of online friendships. Introverted adolescents, by contrast, were more strongly motivated to communicate online to compensate for lacking social skills. This increased their chances of making friends online. Among introverted adolescents, a stronger motive for social compensation also led to more frequent online communication and online self-disclosure, resulting in more online friendships. The study concluded that the antecedents of online friendship formation are more complex than previously assumed.

When you think of it, the findings make sense. It is not hard to imagine a shy, introverted adolescent using the internet for social compensation. On the other hand, the results of the study are fairly disturbing, Although we monitor our children’s time on the internet I still worry about the predators who lurk online waiting to chat with innocent kids.

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Entry filed under: Authentication, Security, Social engineering.

Web Safety for Kids Is your kid buying alcohol on the ‘net?

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