Getting Personal Online

The cover feature of November 2007’s APA Monitor (yeah, I am a bit behind in my reading), was Children and the Internet. One of the features, “Socially Wired,” specifically addressed how and with whom teens interact online. A good portion of the article features the results of a study conducted in the Netherlands by Dr. Patti M. Valkenberg. Among the interesting findings:

  • Teens who communicated online felt closer to their friends.
  • Almost 1/3 of teens said they were better able to share intimate information about themselves online than in person — especially when interacting with the opposite sex.

I would be interested in seeing whether there were any strong gender differences; my hunch would be that boys may be more likely to disclose online that in person, given that they are more likely to be socialized out of expressing feelings face-to-face. Or maybe the gender expectations about self-disclosure simply parallel those that we see offline. Hopefully we will see more studies like these in the future.

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