Summary of Findings
This report explores the new contours of friendship in the digital age. It covers the results of a national survey of teens ages 13 to 17; throughout the report, the word “teens” refers to those in that age bracket, unless otherwise specified. The survey was conducted online from Sept. 25 through Oct. 9, 2014, and Feb. 10 through March 16, 2015, and 16 online and in-person focus groups with teens were conducted in April 2014 and November 2014.
For today’s teens, friendships can start digitally: 57% of teens have met a new friend online. Social media and online gameplay are the most common digital venues for meeting friends.
For American teens, making friends isn’t just confined to the school yard, playing field or neighborhood – many are making new friends online. Fully 57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20% of all teens have met an online friend in person.
- Boys are more likely than girls to make online friends: 61% of boys compared to 52% of girls have done so.
- Older teens are also more likely than younger teens to make online friends. Some 60% of teens ages 15 to 17 have met a friend online, compared with 51% of 13- to 14- year-olds.