• two teens texting

two teens texting (Photo : Reuters)

Findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center show that over half of United States teens are making new friends through social network sites or video game forums on the Internet rather than in real life. However, most of the friendships usually remain virtual, and only one-fifth of the teenagers eventually meet their online buddies in person.   

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The study surveyed over one thousand teens between the ages of 13 and 17, according to CBS News. They were questioned in either English or Spanish.

Researcher Amanda Lenhart, the report's author, stated that smartphones and social media have become important tools for starting and maintaining teenager friendships. Online video gaming is also popular among teen boys.

The survey shows that 57 percent of teenagers have made one or more friends online. Meanwhile, 29 percent have made five or more companions through the Internet.

Facebook and Instagram are among the most popular social networking sites among teens. The study showed that 64 percent of them use the sites to start new relationships, according to The Next Digit. Almost 70 percent of those youngsters said that they also turn to the sites during tough times in their lives.

A total of 78 percent of girls used social media to make new pals. On the other hand, 57 percent of boys made new friends while playing online video games or chatting on their forums.

The study also revealed that 19 percent of the teens share passwords to build trust online. However, a vast majority of the teens think that their peers share too much personal information on social networks. Almost 90 percent said that was the case.

In addition, next-generation social websites and mobile apps are on the way. This will give teens more online tools to make new friendships via their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Finally, the Pew study discovered that 88 percent of teens communicate with their friends through text messages, and 55 percent text every day. Interestingly, just 6 percent of teenagers e-mail their friends daily.