Is Texting Good For Adolescents?

(Photo: IntelFreePress)

(Photo: IntelFreePress)

The short answer is yes, at least if the goal is to develop more offline friendships. That is the argument of Maria Koutamanis and co-authors in a study published in Computers in Human Behavior:

The first aim of this study was to investigate whether instant messaging (IM) influences adolescents’ ability to initiate offline friendships. The second aim was to study the validity of two underlying mechanisms that may account for this relationship: (a) the opportunities offered by IM to communicate with a variety of people, and (b) to disclose intimate information. A three-wave longitudinal study was conducted among 690 Dutch adolescents (10–17 years old). Results show that adolescents’ IM use increased their ability to initiate offline friendships over time. Furthermore, IM use indirectly increased adolescents’ ability to initiate offline friendships through the diversity of their online communication partners. These findings suggest that adolescents can practice social skills online and learn to relate to a variety of people, which, over time, may increase their ability to initiate offline friendships.

(HT: Kevin Lewis)

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  1. Litenarata says:

    This is a “duh” result for me. We didn’t have texting when I was a teenager, but as an adult, it’s helped me keep in touch with a lot more people than I would have if we’d had to rely on phone calls or meeting up in person. Most people don’t live in small towns anymore where you can just walk around the block to see your friends.

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  2. RGJ says:

    Goggle “Louis CK texting”. Nails it.

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  3. caitlyn (ladyphlogiston) says:

    I grew up with undiagnosed selective mutism, and online interaction pretty much created my social life. I had very few friends in my community when I left for college, but I was able to interact with them online while I was there and developed the confidence I needed to speak to them in person. That’s perhaps an extreme example, but I’m perfectly willing to believe that texting serves a similar purpose.

    It’s also one of the better ways I’ve found for non-urgent communication, which makes it much easier to arrange informal get-togethers.

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