ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
This study explores the role that digital media technologies play in adolescents’ experiences of friendship and identity. The author draws on findings from in-depth interviews with 32 adolescents (15 girls, 17 boys) ages 13–18 (M = 15.5 years) attending one of seven secondary schools in Bermuda. The adolescents were asked to describe the nature of their online exchanges with friends and the value they ascribe to these conversations. A thematic analysis of their responses revealed that online peer communications promote adolescents’ sense of belonging and self-disclosure, two important peer processes that support identity development during adolescence. At the same time, the unique features of computer-mediated communication shape adolescents’ experiences of these processes in distinct ways. Gender and age differences show that adolescents’ online peer communications are not uniform; the characteristics that distinguish adolescents offline also shape their online activities.
Adolescence; Identity; Friendships; Digital media; Internet