True Connections?: The effects of social networking communication on relational development of friendships during adolescence

by Caryline Lowe
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux

In today’s world, adolescents are increasingly using new communication technologies to create and maintain friendships. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey (2007), 73% of American adolescents are linked online through social networking websites. This is a significant increase from a 2006 survey that found only 55% of adolescents use social networking sites. This research will examine the effects of social networking on the relational development of friendships during adolescence by using three communication theories: Altman and Taylor’s Social Penetration theory will help explain why adolescents experience reciprocity of self-disclosure through social networking sites, the costs and rewards from online communication will be analyzed through the use of Thibaut and Kelley’s Social Exchange theory and finally, Blumler and Katz's Uses and Gratifications theory will help examine why online social networking has become so appealing.