What Relationships Mean in Our Lives

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Virtual Friendship: Students' Work - A Survey


teens sharing music

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We designed a questionnaire which was filled in by 27 boys and 24 girls from our grade (Year 9) who are between fourteen and fifteen years old. Most of them (everyone except 4 pupils) are on Facebook. We asked them many questions about Facebook and other networks in their lives. Here are our results:

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On average, every pupil is online for about thirteen hours a week. That is quite a long time but many people says that they are online all the time with their mobile phones.

When they are online, they chat with friends, like and comment posts, check news or stalk people. A few pupils play games or post pictures.

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Most of the people we asked have between 250 and 500 friends on Facebook.  Eleven people said that they have 500 to 1000 friends. Only a minority has fewer than 100 friends. We could not imagine that someone has 1000 friends in real life, so we asked how many of their 'Facebook friends' they meet regularly in real life. Most pupils answered that they meet half of them. Only 4 people know everyone of their 'Facebook friends'. We conclude that most of the pupils accept everyone who sends them a friendship request on Facebook.

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Many pupils told us that only their friends could see their profile, but when they have so many friends, it means a lot of people can see it. Only 5 pupils show their profile to everyone on Facebook. This can be very dangerous, because some people post really private posts or pictures and use their full name.

Then we asked them on which other networks they are registered. Most of them answered: instagram, YouTube, ask.fm, PSN, Twinspace and Skype. One funny person wrote things like eDarling, Parship (two partner-finding networks), Check24 (which finds cheap insurances) and Chatroulette (which finds a random partner for a video chat).

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One of our questions was: What is too private for Facebook? We were shocked when we saw that some people wrote, "Nothing is too private". But most of the pupils listed nude pictures, bikini pictures, problems with one's family, telephone numbers or addresses.

Finally we asked the students why they are on Facebook. Almost everyone answered: to keep in contact with friends, for checking news, for looking at somebody’s profile and because it is mainstream and everybody is on Facebook.

(authors: G. and L., girls, Germany)