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Making and Keeping Friends Online

This article is discussing the phenomena of teenagers making and keeping friends on the internet.  It is fairly well known that many teenagers are active users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, most of the well known social networking sites out there.  It makes sense that teenagers would be “friending” their friends that they see every day in school, or maybe only over  the summer at camp.  These social networks provide a method to keep in constant contact with friends, no matter where they are.  What is a bit surprising is the number of friends teenagers make online, without having ever met them in person.  Teenage girls tend to make these friends on Instagram and Facebook, on the usual social networks, while teenage boys tend to make online friends through playing multiplayer internet-connected video games.  And these friendships tend to last a long amount of time.

This was a strange disconnect for me because when I was first using the internet, my parents made me very wary of talking to strangers online.  Cyber bullying and cyber criminals, people pretending to be far younger than they were in chat rooms, all of these things made my parents discourage me from talking to strangers on the internet.  But now it is a bit more accepted that people will make friends online, and it seems that through certain channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and maybe even through video games, the friendships are truly with people who are who they say they are, or at least they are good friends.

This article relates to networks because of how making friends online expands a persons personal network so much.  If a person only communicates online with people that they know in person, their network does not expand so much.  They have friends, their friends have friends, and the web can grow.  But if a person makes just one friend online, it is possible that this friend does not know any of this person’s in-person friends.  This creates a bridge between two networks, connecting two people who might not have been directly connected otherwise.  While it is possible that people would have friends with the person they meet online, it is also possible that it is a very long chain between these two people.  The new prevalence of making friends online is creating a more connected network across the internet.


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September 2015