“TikTok Is My Life and Snapchat Is My Ventricle”: A Mixed-Methods Study on the Role of Online Communication Tools for Friendships in Early Adolescents

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Early adolescents are frequent users of online communication tools (OCTs). Yet, we have limited knowledge about how OCTs influence this population and their friendships. We sought opinions of 938 Austrian early adolescents on the role of OCTs for their friendships via a questionnaire and 207 focus groups. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the focus groups. We found that despite the emergence of some online-specific aggression, OCTs are perceived as beneficial for friendships. Early adolescents use online spaces naturally and differentiate little between online and offline communication. Only when it comes to high levels of intimacy, early adolescents also need an offline setting to fulfill their communication need. Online communication tools, especially newer forms such as online gaming, can surpass a mere communicative function and provide a space for building and maintaining friendships. In the future, OCTs should be considered as a tool to facilitate positive development in early adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-203
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • academic/school transitions
  • communication
  • friendship
  • media & technology
  • peer relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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