Today’s Teens: Number of Friends (Off and Online) is Indicator of Status

Alloy Media + Marketing and Harris Interactive just released findings from a collaborative study

Key highlights include:

  • Email and social networking sites allow young people to expand their social connections by contacting and becoming friends with people who they have not necessarily met in person”
  • “In some cases, online social networks allow for more intimate connections than offline relationships”
  • “Tweens(ages 8 to 12) prefer spending time with their parents than with their friends (58% vs. 31%), by the teen years (ages 13 to 17), this preference has dramatically reversed”
  • “Teens are much greater users of email or Internet Messaging (IM) (74% vs. 26%) and text messaging (37% vs. 9%) than their tween counterparts”
  • “The number of friends young people attract to their social network profiles is an indicator of their status among peers.”
  • “Teens have an average of 75 people on their online profile, 52 on their IM buddy list, 39 on their email contact list and 38 contacts on their cell phone”

What it means: following my “Don’t be caught by surprise” post, I was really interested in finding out more information on teen and tween online behavior and the social impacts of the new social tools like IM and social networks. This study is enlightening and offers a window into this new world. Clearly, the size of your personal network validates your worth in the teen world of 2006. Also, the definition of friends is quite extendable (which explains the Facebook debacle when they launched a NewsFeed broadcasting your every move to your “friends”). Finally, we clearly see that social tools are now a key part of growing up.

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