Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.2 Friendship made easy?

Described image
Figure 3 Online friendships are with anyone, anywhere.

Establishing connections with peers and friends is one of the most fundamental aspects of childhood and social networks are a great resource for expanding children’s friendships (Subrahmanyam and Greenfield, 2008).

As you saw earlier, social networks allow children not only to connect to people within their own circle of face-to-face friends, but also to form connections with a much wider group of individuals, potentially all over the world. Digital optimists argue that it is now easier for children to join online communities with shared interests, and that barriers such as shyness, disability and distance are more easily overcome.

But this raises an intriguing question: are children forming a wider range of friendship types online compared to their traditional face-to-face interactions? And are these networks really influencing the nature and quality of their friendships?

While we as authors were discussing this, one of us summarised their view succinctly:

Friendships made through coincidence and proximity may offer a different experience to online friendships. Virtual friendships cut across boundaries and can be more immediate so being online is creating a different type of friendship requiring a new skill set.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371