A Study of Adolescents' Online and Offline Social Relationships

24 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2008 Last revised: 30 Jul 2014

See all articles by Gustavo S Mesch

Gustavo S Mesch

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 1, 2005


Recent studies have shown that adolescents use the Internet not only to maintain social relationships with distant relatives and friends but also to create new relationships online; some of these friendships become integrated into their social circle. Past studies focused mainly on the effect of the Internet on existing relationships or the nature of online-only ties, so studies comparing the quality of online and face-to-face relationships are missing. The goal of the current study is to bridge this gap. In keeping with previous studies on social association, I argue that the quality of social relationships is dependent on duration and diversity of topics and activities carried out together. Time is important as it facilitates the development of a collective shared history and identity. Intimacy develops through the participation in shared activities and discussion of diverse issues of personal concern.

Using a representative sample of the adolescent population in Israel, it was found that closeness to a friend is a function of social similarity, content and activity multiplexity and duration of the relationships. Friendships originated in the Internet are perceived as less close and supportive because they are relatively new and online friends are involved in fewer joint activities and fewer topics of discussion. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: adolescents, internet, social relationships, online, friendship, social association, survey

Suggested Citation

Mesch, Gustavo S, A Study of Adolescents' Online and Offline Social Relationships (November 1, 2005). OII Research Report No. 8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1308494 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1308494

Gustavo S Mesch (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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