The authors analyzed 300 stories about adolescents’ friendship challenges in order to explore the roles of digital technologies in contemporary friendship conflicts. An initial round of analysis facilitated the identification and subsequent classification of stories by five commonly described challenges: betrayal, isolation, meanness and harassment, concern about a Friend, and Maintenance Challenges. Drawing on previously identified features of exchanges in and through digital contexts, including scalability, persistence, replicability, and anonymity, the role of technology was then explored in the context of the five friendship challenges. Scalability, leveraging the affordance of efficiently reaching a broad audience, was the most common way technology amplified friendship challenges. However, technology also often functioned solely as the medium for communication. Additionally, adolescents described difficulties related to sexting as a contemporary friendship challenge. Implications for supporting youth in their friendships are discussed.
Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies – SAGE
Published: Jun 1, 2018