The New Types of Friendships

Topics: AnimeFriends

When Cassie Myers moved from Boston to Seattle, she knew that there would be a period of adjusting to her new home. “It’s scary knowing that you have to make new friends when everyone has known each other for years.” Luckily, however, she won’t be completely alone. If Cassie needs advice, her friends from Boston are only a text message away. “On the first day of school, my friends in Boston helped me pick out my outfit,” Cassie says.

“It helped me feel confident. And I looked awesome.” Cassie now has a new group of friends in Seattle, but she keeps in touch with her old ones daily.

In the past, friendships like Cassie’s would have been difficult, delayed by the mail or Internet speed. Now, cell phones and messaging apps can bridge 3,000 miles. With the average tween spending six hours daily interacting with digital technology, it makes sense that maintaining friendships would be a part of that time.

In digital space, it doesn’t really matter if your friend is across town or across the country. Online venues are also serving the same purpose for tweens as the mall did for their parents. Describing the time he spends in a popular online video game, blogger Owen Williams wrote, “Even for friends that live close, in the same city, we catch up far more often through the game, popping on for a few quick rounds and talking about what’s new at the same time.”

Researchers call this a “third place.

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” The idea is that kids interact at home (the first place) and at school (the second place). Having a third place is important because it gives people a way to hang out and build friendships. Social scientists are finding that, for tweens and teens, the Internet is often a valid third place. The idea that spending time online means being alone is outdated for many people under 18.

The Internet can bring people together through shared interests too. Antonio Vargas went to an anime and manga convention with his parents last spring and came back with the screen names of five new friends. “We have a group chat where we talk about our favorite characters and give each other recommendations,” he said. “It’s cool because my friends from school don’t like anime. They don’t have to listen to me ramble anymore because I can just message my convention friends about it.” Antonio’s two types of friendships might look odd from the outside, but he likes it this way. “I think I have more friends than a lot of people,” he said. “They’re just more spread out.”

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