We are your family now…

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New research from the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT and the University of Turku in Finland has found that online communities, whether they are formed through games, social-networking sites or other virtual groups, offer “crucial socialisation and identification experiences” for today’s teens.

The study looked at 4,299 people from Spain, Japan, and the UK who use the social-networking site Habbo. These online friendships were rated to be as powerful as the participant’s connection to their own families and real-world friends.

It seems that, in technologically mature countries, the online world provides a more inclusive source of social identification than traditional friendships – possibly because these connections are likely to be built on many mutual interests and greater pre-selection. And, of course, online communities can also help you to keep in touch with distant friends and family.

Some may bemoan this research, claiming that it indicates a dangerous decrease in real-world interactions. Others may see it as a sign that teenagers are actually becoming more social and breaking the traditional boundaries of friendship built around age or geography.

Skywrite recently held a seminar on our own research report – The Science of Friendship. The panel considered the online habits of consumers and whether or not online recommendations through social media sites are listened to or ignored.

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