Intimacy and the Internet: Relationships with Friends, Romantic Partners, and Family Members

Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


Digital communication tools, such as email, instant messaging, text messaging, games, and social networking sites are very popular among adolescents. Youth use them to interact and communicate with their peers as well as their family members. In this chapter, we explore the role of technology in the third task facing adolescents: that of developing intimacy and interconnections with the people in their lives. We consider the mediating role of technology in three important relationships in young people’s lives: friendships and peer group relationships, romantic relationships (dating), and relationships within the family. First, we describe their use of online contexts to interact with their friends and other peers. Because of concerns about purely online friendships, we examine separately their online interactions with offline friends and acquaintances as well as their online relationships with peers, who are not part of their offline world, and the quality of such purely online relationships. Then we describe adolescents’ online romantic relationships, and reflecting extant research, will focus on those that are purely online. The final section will describe technology and teens’ relationships with their family, with a special emphasis on how teens’ status as the technology expert may be altering traditional family dynamics and relationships. The chapter concludes by raising questions about whether adolescents’ online interactions with their peers may transform their friendships and disrupt their family relationships.


Romantic Relationship Social Networking Site Romantic Partner Family Cohesion Friendship Quality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Social StudiesMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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