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But as Weiss points out, the stress to maintain a certain image has always been a challenge for both teens and adults, with or without technology.
“Back in the days, everyone felt they had to dress perfectly and have their hair done just so to present a perfect image,” he says.
“In fact, we have found that users of digital technology are also the heaviest users of public spaces, such as cafes, restaurants, and religious centers.” Those relationships are closer.
Hampton found that users of Facebook had 9% more people they can confide in and discuss important topics with when compared with other Internet users.
Since this generation of teenagers has more homework and activities than any before it, much of their social life is online.
A recent survey found that only 25% of teenagers spend face-to-face time outside of school with their friends every day. More than 80% of teens in the survey say social media makes them feel more connected to their friends’ lives, and 70% feel more in tune with their friends’ feelings.
In the pre-digital days, Hampton explains, if you moved out of town for a new job or switched schools, it was a real challenge to stay in touch, no matter how close you were. But with social media, we get many more daily peeks into what everyone is doing and thinking.
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Some of the positive ways technology is bolstering relationships include: It leads to more offline interaction.
Hampton would like to dispel the notion that the people who use technology the most are hiding in their apartments to avoid personal contact.
He says online conversations often lead to an in-person coffee or dinner date.
“There is no evidence that digital interactions are replacing face-to-face interactions,” he explains.
“Boomers and Gen-Xers may look at young people staring at their devices and think they’re being antisocial, but who is to say we’re right and they’re wrong?