The sample in this study (Tufekci, 2010) was 617 students, 19 years old on average who use SNS. They were asked about the number of friends they kept in touch weekly offline (15 on average) and if they've met new friends online. In the qualitative section (175 respondents) they were asked whether they believed it was possible to meet new friends online or not, and why.
After analysis, Tufekci found that those who believed online friendships (N = 300) were possible were 52% more likely to have met new friends online than those who didn't (N=317). The only difference between the two groups was time spent online: those who were positive about online relationship spent about 23 more minutes a day online.
Surprisingly, African-Americans had about 67% higher odds of meeting new friends online, compared with whites. Gender and age didn't make any significant difference, and neither did the number of offline friends.
Why people don't believe in online friendships
- Trust. Some respondents felt online identities aren't reliable.
- Need for a face-to-face communication.
- Difficulties in conveying emotions and creating intimacy online.
Why people do believe in online friendships
Tufekci, Z. (2010). Who Acquires Friends Through Social Media and Why?
- Some respondents felt online friendships are less judgmental, more open and less embarrassing.
- Some respondents felt the important part in a relationship is the conversation, whether online or offline.
- Experience. About 10% of the respondents who were positive about online relationships met friends/spouses online or have known someone who did.
Of course, the results of this study are relevant to the college population studied, so one can't generalize the findings to the rest of the population, but it is interesting that many of the "N-generation" still feel the need for a face-to-face interaction in order to form a friendship.
"Rich Get Richer" versus "Seek and Ye Shall Find" Proceedings of the 4th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM, 2010).