Whether you were brought up in the early internet days of MSN Messenger and forums, reached your teenage years as the Facebook phenomenon hit, or grew up without any internet at all, the chances are that you are still using the internet today in some form to communicate with friends and family. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger are just some of the ways we keep in touch and catch up with each other’s lives.
For most young people today, the online world isn’t just where they maintain friendships but also where they make them. Although this might seem strange to certain generations, the concept of making friends with someone you’ve never met isn’t anything new: organised pen pal services have been around for nearly 100 years!
In fact, today’s social media bios aren’t that different from the short pen pal profiles once printed in magazines and newspapers, created to connect new friends across the globe, who likely never met.
What is different is the prevalence with which young people are making friends with people they’ve never met and, of course, the methods in which they are doing so: via the internet. So why is it so common for young people to connect and bond with strangers online and are there any risks involved with online friends?