Online Friendships and Internet Addiction – Who’s at Risk?
The internet gives great opportunities to conduct or maintain friendships. While many are enthusiastic about this relatively new communication tool, there are concerns as well. For example, does the internet decrease the quality of offline friendships, and is the quantity of online friends associated with the risk of being addicted to the internet? In a Developmental Psychology study, researchers tried to find this out among Czech youth.
High internet addiction risk groups are youth who:
- lack self confidence
- prefer online communication over offline communication
What is the relation between youth’s approach of friendship and addictive behavior on the internet?
394 Czech youth, between 12 and 26 years old. 86% of them indicated they were Internet users.
Face- to-face interviews were conducted with all respondents. Questions were asked about online and offline friendships, the internet use of the respondents and about their self-confidence.
Facts and findings
- All respondents agreed to have more offline than online friends.
- They also agreed that their closest friends were mostly offline friends.
- About 30% of all online friends, were first met online.
- 43% of respondents were offline orientated, which means they stated they had no online friends at all.
- 30% of the respondents were face-to-face orientated, meaning that less than one third of their friends were online friends.
- 26% of the respondents were internet orientated, meaning that more than one third of their total friends were online friends.
- Off all groups, the Internet orientated youth spent most time online.
- The internet orientated youth were most likely to be addicted to the internet, while the offline orientated youth were least likely to be addicted to the internet.
- Youth with a low(er) score on self-esteem and who preferred online (over offline) communication were most prone to become addicted to the internet.
- Remarkable fact: The face-to-face orientated group had the highest number of offline friends who originally had been met online