In February, the second observation of International Online Friendship Day, marked the importance the role that social media plays in our increasingly connected lives today. Skout, a popular mobile app that allows people to connect, chat and meet, hosted more than 680 million connections last year, enabling people all over the world to increase their social circle. Skout also took advantage of the Online Friendship Day to conduct a survey to find out what’s trending in online social networks and the results are contrary to pundits who feel many people are wary and suspicious of starting online friendships.
A surprised statistic that was discovered is three out of four people maintain online friendships with people they have yet to meet. And as a testament to our trust in online relationships, eighty-three percent of these same individuals stated they would like to meet their online friends in person one day. Flash back to the past, where having a pen-pal in another country gave people an intimate glimpse into other cultures. The same is true today, as sixty-four percent of Americans surveyed, stated they have online friendships with people in other countries. Meeting people in different lands online can be especially fulfilling for older adults to deter loneliness.
How about for the socially awkward persons in our society. Online friendships can be a welcome treat for those who tend towards nervousness and anxiety in social situations. This is by far not condoning online relationships as preferable to face-to-face relationships, but it is recognizing that a certain percentage of our population has always been on the fringes of being socially accepted. With 62% of Americans surveyed say they have at least five online friends, and 41% say they have at least 10, it would seem to be a good way to practice interaction skills.
With mobile technology making it so much easier to communicate on the spot, you’re not necessarily tied to a computer, sitting a dimly lit room. As a matter of fact, Skout’s survey found that ninety-two percent of people used their smartphone versus a computer. And fifty-nine percent related that the engage in daily communication with online friends. Maybe it’s time to stop viewing social networking with negative connotations. It is obviously working for many people who are enjoying staying in touch with others, even if it is online. With social networking apps like Skout, getting to know people in New Orleans, London or even the community a few miles away from your home, can only offer exciting experiences to enhance life.