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A Third Of Teenagers In The UK Meet ‘Social Media’ Friends In Person

Teenagers Taking Huge Risks Online

Despite many so-called experts declaring that it is impossible to verify the identity of anyone online, one third of 15 to 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom have met a person in real life that they have become acquainted with in the virtual life.

social media monitor computer facebook twitter
Source: vocus.com

The BBC conducted a poll of 1,105 UK teenagers, and the findings showed that social media is unsurprisingly playing a massive role in their lives. Just a single per cent of the teenagers said that they had never used social media to boost their social lives. Despite the increasing number of friends being met online, teenagers have not totally given up on real-life friends (just yet). A majority 66 per cent still consider friends outside of the social media sphere to be more important than the ones online, and 28 per cent leant the other way.

Dr Emma Short, a psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire, is particularly worried about the number of teenagers that are happy to meet up with people they have met online. She has recently warned that teenagers must exercise more caution when interacting with strangers, and take greater precautions.

“Although we create and maintain our friendships online in a very real way, it is not safe to assume that strangers we meet online are anything other than strangers,” Short stated. “Even very sophisticated security experts find it very hard to verify the identity of accounts.”

Social Media’s influence was further highlighted in the report, as 25 per cent of the people polled admitted that they were addicted to social media, whilst 13 per cent think that their online friends know them them better than their real-life friends do.

Just over half of the respondents feel that it is imperative to check a notification as soon as it appears on their devices, and 25 per cent wish that they could give up social media altogether. Facebook was revealed as the most popular among the group with 89 per cent saying they owned an account, and this was followed by Twitter with 62 per cent, and third in line was Snapchat with a percentage of 58.
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Source: flickr.com
In a separate survey conducted at a similar time, it was revealed that mobile phone habits have changed over the years. 4 per cent of the mobile phone owners who were polled identified texting, social media and emailing as the primary reason that they use their smartphones. This was compared to 21 per cent who use them to make calls. 21 per cent dropped to just 7.8 per for 18 to 24-year-olds.

All these statistics can be manipulated, and it all depends of the number of the participants when judging the validity of a piece of research, but despite this, social media seems to grow in stature in our technologically driven society.

The results are not surprising, and raise a question about the way we are using technology as a human race. Are we happy to keep consuming these products that give us the function to engage with people online, but don't offer any alternative to societal and ecological issues, or do we push for a better future and utilise technology in a manner that could potentially improve the state of our culture.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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A Third Of Teenagers In The UK Meet ‘Social Media’ Friends In Person Reviewed by Alex Smith on Monday, October 20, 2014 Rating: 5
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