Adolescent Friendship Formation in Second Life

Although there have been many studies of the effect that online friendships have on adolescents, fewer have investigated how young people form friendships online. Those that have studied online friendship have found that it is generally different than real-world friendship in form and function. This study applies Monge & Contractor’s (2003) Multi-theoretical Multilevel model to study the emergence of adolescent friendships in the online world. This study presents the results of a large scale social network analysis based on computer logs of friendships in Teen Second Life , an online social world for adolescents age 13-17. Results suggest that friendship formation follows several predictable patterns found in the real world, but not found in all previous studies of online friendship formation among adolescents, including tendencies towards balance and a preference for friends of high status and friends who are geographically, temporally, and physically proximate. These findings indicate that online friendship patterns in Teen Second Life mirror those found in real life.