The common consensus concerning the social merits of social media and internet-based communication is that society is becoming more socially disconnected and less socially capable. CNBC makes a compelling argument that this ideology is in fact accurate, specifically in this article in which they detail statistics of how frequently millennials check phones when with friends and in general social media’s strong influence on its users (social media). While there is truth that phones in general draw people away from face-to-face social interaction, devices and social media don’t make individuals less socially capable. In fact, there’s solid evidence to prove the opposite.
In a report by Amanda Lenhart of Pew Research Center, there are included many interesting and comprehensive statistics drawn from a national survey of teens 13 to 17 years old detailing the ways in which teens prefer to interact based on gender, age, and device of preference. Chapter 3 of the report takes an in depth look at the importance video games hold in friendships for teens, stating that of the 72% of teens who play video games, more than half have met friends online. The report also finds that playing games with friends online makes teens feel more connected with friends. As there are 5 full length chapters in the report, there is ample evidence to support the notion that internet-based communication serves a vital role in building and maintaining relationships in teens. As for myself, I’ve witnesses my younger brother of 15 years spend countless nights talking to and playing games with his friends, both from school and the internet. About a month ago he and some of the friends he had met online went to a car show and spent the day together. Via apps like Discord and game console functionality like Xbox party chat, teens have found ways to stay connected and expand their social circles.
Previous to the popularization of internet-based communication as early as 20 years ago, teens typically stayed connected and involved with friends via face-to-face interaction at events and during extracurricular activities. Now a few decades later, teens are almost constantly capable of interacting with friends and have numerous means of making new friends that share their interests through social media such as Facebook and chat mediums such as Discord. Maybe the reason people check social media when with friends is because they aren’t with the right people, so perhaps instead of missing out on face-to-face interactions, people should make better use of online communication.
Teens, Technology and Friendships
Social media making millennials less social: Study