Friendships are incredibly important during adolescence. Teen friendships help young people feel a sense of acceptance and belonging. They support the development of compassion, caring, and empathy.
Moreover, teen friendships are an important part of forming a sense of identity outside the family. And these adolescent friendships can be incredibly supportive in helping teens to weather difficult times.
Great changes take place during the teenage years. Teens are developing a sense of their own identity and may find that friend groups that used to feel satisfying no longer are. However, it can feel daunting to approach a new friend group. Today’s teens also face the added pressure of social media, which can intensify feelings of being left out or feed social drama.
Not all teen friendships last forever. People change as they mature, and therefore they may grow apart. Parents can encourage teens to think about the qualities that are important to them in a relationship. Friendships are more likely to last when teens have similar values and priorities and want the same things out of the relationship.
It’s normal for teens to have fights and disagreements. But that doesn’t mean the friendship has to end. Teen friendships help adolescents learn how to navigate conflict and how to recognize what they could do differently. Moreover, they learn how important it is to say “I’m sorry” and also how important it is to forgive the other person.
In conclusion, teen friendships matter—a lot. They’re a huge part of growing into adulthood. But despite the importance of friends in teenage life, the significance of teens’ relationships with their parents can never be underestimated.
Here are some quick tips about friendships:
1.Communication is important
- Friends might not always agree or have the same opinion and that’s OK.
- Talk and listen to each other.
- Saying sorry helps.
- Talk things through if there’s a fall out.
- Be fair and deal with things calmly.
- Try to deal with issues at the time.
2. How to treat your friends
- Don’t put friends down.
- Don’t go behind friends backs.
- Stand up for them.
- Be there for them.
- Give time to them.
- Accept and respect each other.
- Give each other space.
- Compromise when you can.
3.Being a good friend
A good friend is made up of a mix of good qualities, like:
- Being kind and caring.
- Having fun
- A sense of humour.
- Being yourself.
Look after yourself
1. You have choice about friendships
- It’s OK not to be friends with everyone.
- Be aware of how you feel about your friendships.
- You can choose to end a friendship if you want to.
- Making friends outside of school increases your choice.
2. Friendships are about respecting each other
- Friendships should be equal.
- Friendships need time and effort on both sides.
- Friendships need respect and understanding on both sides.
- Don’t change who you are to fit in or be accepted.
3. Friendships change and sometimes end
- Not all friendships last. They can change and sometimes end, that’s normal.
- It’s OK to end friendships without feeling guilty about it, even though it’s not always easy to do.
Struggling with friendships is not uncommon. However, if you are worried it is important to ask for help. This help could be from an adult you trust.
Friendship guide for young people
How to end a friendship
Making friends online
57% of teens have met a new friend online. Social media and games are the most common places to meet friends.
There are many other reasons why young people make friends online, including:
- Feeling socially isolated in ‘real life’
- Living far away from others in their peer group
- Being or living with people vulnerable to Covid-19
- Finding it easier to express themselves online
Making friends online is not always born out of responding to a negative situation, of course! In fact, most young people will make friends online as a positive addition to their lives, alongside friends they make through school and hobbies. In today’s culture, becoming friends with people online isn’t necessarily a conscious decision – it’s as natural as becoming friends with people in the same class at school.
How Do Young People Meet Online Friends?
Friend-finding apps, like Wink, Hoop and Yubo. Many will be familiar with the function of ‘swiping right’ and ‘swiping left’ – found in popular dating apps, including Tinder. The premise is simple: swiping right expresses interest in chatting further and swiping left moves to the next user. In any case, this function is based on finding others to chat with.
Online gaming, such as on multiplayer games like Rocket League and FIFA. Also, with the continued expansion of the Metaverse, we are likely to see a rise in the number of people making online friendships through virtual reality. Young people who like gaming may also meet on associated sites and platforms, such as the online chat platform Discord or watching streamers on Twitch.
Fake Profiles and Catfishing
Unless apps and platforms implement the use of age verification and facial recognition tools and software, there will always be a risk that users aren’t who they portray themselves to be.
There’s an almost endless list of why someone might create a fake profile – from seeking financial gain through fraud, with the intention of grooming, through to boredom or being unhappy with their appearance and/or real-life circumstances. We go into further details about some of these reasons below.
Bots are also prevalent, although these are more likely to be used to boost someone’s number of followers to self-promote or falsely endorse a brand or product, rather than with the intention of targeting individuals to foster friendships .
Building a friendship with someone online can be a tactic used as a part of grooming, most often done by using stolen photos and a made-up persona of someone within the same age bracket. The person grooming could be creating a relationship between them and the young person that is on a friendship level or romantic in nature.
By creating this foundational relationship, a young person may feel they can trust this person and therefore might tell them personal information. That information could put them at risk, such as details that gives away their location, what school they go to or also private information that could be used to bribe and control them in the future.
If a young person believes they are talking to a real friend or an online romantic partner, there is the potential to be convinced, tricked or bribed into sending self-generated child sexual abuse materials.
Cyberbullying and Trolling
It is not unusual to hear young people talking about how their school friendship group has fallen out or the mean words said behind their back by their best friend. However, these types of disagreements and fights can take on a different form when they play out online and can sometimes escalate to worrying levels. This is especially true if there is a core group or community (such as a fandom) that all become involved, and one person becomes a target.
Unlike in a school, a victim who is targeted online can be harassed 24/7 by their bullies, who are often without the limitations of worrying that a parent, carer or teacher might be a witness to their actions.
If a victim is targeted by a group of people online, the bullies might feel that there is a sense of ‘safety in numbers’. In other words, there’s less personal responsibility because everyone else in the friendship group or community is doing it, too. This could take the form of trolling – a subset of cyberbullying that involves sending upsetting, menacing, or irritating comments and messages, often mistakenly labelled as ‘funny’.
Screen Time and Isolation
If a young person is feeling lonely and isolated in ‘real life’, they may turn to the digital world to find friendships and a community. Although this may bring a lot of positives, for some young people there could be risks associated with this, such as:
Too much screen time. There is no definitive answer to ‘how much screen time is too much?’, although studies have shown effects include shrinkage in parts of the brain needed for executive function (the part of the brain responsible for tasks like planning, organising, and impulse control), and some psychologists have expressed concern.
Exposure to extremism and radicalisation. People who are isolated may be more likely to be indoctrinated to extremist beliefs and communities found online. A longing for a sense of belonging, unhappiness, feeling angry and ‘different’ are some of the factors that might make a young person vulnerable to being targeted by extremist groups.
Sexting is when you send a sexual message, photo or video to someone else. It could be a picture of you, but sometimes people send pictures and videos of other people.
Messages could be to a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone online.
- being partly or completely naked, or in your underwear
- posing in a sexual position
- sending ‘nudes’ or ‘dick pics’
- talking about sexual things you’re doing or want to do
- doing sexual things on a live stream
If you’ve sent a nude and you’re worried about what might happen, there are things you can do:
- Ask for the message to be deleted- Explain that you’re not comfortable with them keeping the picture and ask them to delete it.
- Don’t reply to threats- Don’t reply to someone trying to threaten or blackmail you, and don’t send more photos. It can be scary, but it can help you to keep in control
- Talk to someone you trust- Talking can be scary, especially if you’re being threatened. But it can also help you get support and stay in control. Find out more about asking an adult for help.
- Use Report Remove to get it removed from the internet- If you’re under 18 and a nude image or video has been shared online, we can help you get it removed from the internet. Find out how to remove a nude image shared online.
- Report what’s happened- If you’re under 18 and you’re worried or being threatened you can make a report to CEOP. Making a report isn’t confidential but it does mean that they can help to stop what’s happening.
- Get help with how you’re feeling- Having a nude shared by other people or being threatened isn’t your fault. If you’re struggling to cope or you don’t know what to do, talk to us.