Illustration by Abigail Gray Swartz
Where is the doom and gloom?
A new report on “Teens, Technology and Friendships” from the Pew Foundation puts an unusually positive spotlight on the online lives of teenagers as they build friendships and connections in a digital world. Teenagers aged 13 to17 are finding ways to strengthen their relationships with real-world friends as well as making new friends through social media, video gaming, messaging apps and other virtual connectors.
“This does challenge some of the traditional zeitgeist we have around youth and media,” said Amanda Lenhart, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center and the lead author of the report. “Adults have tended to see time online for teenagers as this frivolous, time-wasting thing that’s just entertainment. But what we found is that it’s crucial for teenagers in forming and maintaining these really important relationships in their lives.”
Crucial, in part, because “hanging out” in the digital realm may be more accessible for many teenagers than hanging out in the real world.