Internet media and peer sociability

Gustavo S. Mesch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Online communication has become central in the social life of late childhood and adolescence. Such extensive use of online communication elicits mixed reactions among adults. Scholars and practitioners have expressed concern that online communication leads to shallow relationships, and risks of online solicitation and cyber-bullying. In contrast, it has also been argued that online communication provides opportunities for identity exploration, access to social support and information, and the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships. In this chapter, we address these issues, reviewing the central theoretical perspectives and recent research findings on the association between online communication and sociability. The ability of the internet and cell phones to facilitate constant contact, especially with geographically remote individuals, has caught the popular imagination and the empirical attention of researchers studying the sociability of children and adolescents. Prior to the information age, the social choices of children and adolescents were severely restricted by time and place. Their lack of geographical mobility and their requirement to attend school reduced their social circle to friends they met in the neighborhood, at school and at extracurricular activities. Contact with peers was possible at specific times that usually overlapped school and extracurricular activities. However, new communication technologies support constant contact with peers and the formation of new and geographically dispersed contacts. Thus, the central themes that have dominated the research are the extent of the overlap of online and offine peers, the structure of social networks and the effects of online contacts on social involvement. This chapter will discuss these themes and the existing empirical evidence supporting them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents and Media
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781134060559
ISBN (Print)9780415783682
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Dafna Lemish for selection and editorial matter; individual chapters, the contributors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Internet media and peer sociability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this