The quality of online, offline, and mixed-mode friendships among users of a social networking site


The first aim of this study was to compare the quality of online, offline, and mixed-mode friendships (i.e., friendships that originate online and extend to offline settings) among users of a social networking site. The second aim was to investigate the relative contribution of proximity, perceived similarity, and social attraction to the quality of each of the three types of friendships. We surveyed 2,188 members of a Dutch social networking site. Results showed that the quality of all three types of friendships increased over time. The differences in quality between online and offline friendships remained significant over time, but those between mixed-mode and offline friendships disappeared. Proximity did not affect the quality of any of the three types of friendships. Perceived similarity was the most important predictor of online friendships, whereas social attraction was the most important predictor of mixed-mode and offline friendships. Our results are discussed in the light of both interpersonal and computer-mediated communication theories.

social networking sites; quality of friendship; similarity; proximity; social attraction
Author biographies

Marjolijn L. Antheunis

Author photoMarjolijn L. Antheunis (Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is an Assistant Professor at Tilburg Center for Cognition and Communication, TiCC at Tilburg University. Her research interests focus on the social aspects of new media and the effects of online communication on friendship formation and friendship quality.

Patti M. Valkenburg

Author photoPatti M. Valkenburg (Ph.D., Leiden University, the Netherlands) is a Professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, ASCoR, at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests focus on the effects of media on the cognitive, affective, and social development of children and adolescents.

Jochen Peter

Author photoJochen Peter (Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is a Professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, ASCoR, at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on the consequences of adolescents' media use for their sexual socialization and psycho-social development. Specifically, he investigates the effects of teenagers' use of online sexually explicit material on their sexual attitudes and behaviors.

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