“Friends Are Not Found or Made Online”: Give Us A Break!

October 19, 2023

Caveat: This article was spawned over an online posting brought to our attention by a follower where another social media safety advocate stated, “Friends are Not found or made online.” This advocate used a recent incident where an 11-year-old girl was kidnapped by a man she met playing online video games to support their statement (1)

In today’s onlife world, our understanding of friendships has undergone a profound transformation. With the rise of social media, online gaming, and various technological platforms, the idea that “friends are not found or made online” is no longer factually correct. In fact, genuine friendships can and do develop online. However, it’s equally important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with forming connections in today’s onlife world. 

The concept of making friends online might sound unusual to parents who grew up in a world without the internet. However, today’s onlife world has created opportunities for individuals to connect with and friend others who share their interests, hobbies, and values, which crosses geographical boundaries. This doesn’t diminish the importance of in-person friendships, rather it expands the scope of human connection. 

Online platforms offer unique opportunities for individuals with shared interests to come together and form meaningful connections that might not always be possible offline. (2) These virtual communities can serve as safe havens for many, providing a space to discuss personal issues, mental health challenges, and receive valuable emotional support from those who have experienced similar struggles. Online friendships can also broaden horizons by exposing individuals to diverse perspectives and cultures, while fostering tolerance and understanding in the process. 

For youth facing physical or social limitations that may hinder in-person interactions, online friendships provide an invaluable way to connect with others without these barriers, offering a sense of belonging and support that overcome physical boundaries. (3)(4) Embracing the positive aspects of online friendships while being aware of the potential risks can help parents guide their children toward safe and enriching onlife relationships.

However, while the internet has undeniably opened doors to meaningful relationships, it has also exposed youth and teenagers to certain risks. In today’s onlife world, it’s also important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the potential risks associated with online friendships. 

Yes, the internet can allow people to conceal their true identities and intent, making it easier for bad actors to pretend to be someone they’re not. There are individuals online who may seek to manipulate and exploit vulnerable youth, particularly children and teenagers, so parents must remain vigilant and educate their children about these potential dangers. (5)

Online spaces are also not immune to harassment and bullying, and children and teenagers can become targets of cyberbullying, sometimes even by individuals they considered friends (6). Moreover, sharing personal information with online friends can lead to privacy breaches, identity theft, or other malicious activities.

In today’s onlife world, the evolving landscape of friendships has redefined our understanding of human connection. The onlife world has not only debunked the idea that “friends are not found or made online” but has also unveiled the potential for genuine and enriching relationships to flourish in today’s onlife world. 

“Friends are not found or made online” is a dated and juvenoic moral panic-based statement that most teens will just blow off given that it does not reflect their onlife reality. The statement also fails to recognize the fact that the majority of those who will exploit our kids are more often someone who they and the parent know, love, and trust (family member or close friend) offline (7)

While it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to navigate the dangers of the onlife world and ensure their children’s safety, we must also embrace the incredible potential of online friendships. These connections, formed around shared interests, support, and diverse perspectives, can foster a sense of belonging and understanding that crosses international boundaries. In this ever connected onlife world, finding the right balance between encouraging safe digital interactions and nurturing real-life relationships is key to helping our children thrive in today’s onlife world.

Online friendships can be enriching and fulfilling, but we also acknowledge that they also come with their own set of unique risks, not unlike the offline world. It’s essential to acknowledge the changing landscape of friendships in the digital age while equipping our kids with the knowledge and skills needed to make safe and meaningful connections online. By maintaining an open and supportive dialogue (8)(9), you can help your child navigate the world of online friendships and ensure their well-being in an increasingly connected world which truly is a parent’s responsibility.

Digital Food For Thought

The White Hatter











Support The White Hatter Resources

Free resources we provide are supported by you the community!

Lastest on YouTube
Latest Podcast Episode
Latest Blog Post
The White Hatter Presentations & Workshops

Ask Us Anything. Anytime.

Looking to book a program?

Questions, comments, concerns, send us an email! Or we are available on Messenger for Facebook and Instagram

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

The White Hatter Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.

We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use