Online friendships and World Friendship Day 2019
Tuesday 30 July is World Friendship Day – a day to celebrate and reflect on our meaningful relationships, both online and offline. Online friendships make us feel supported, cared for, and valuable – just as offline ones do. And that’s not to forget all the wonderful, happy memories they give us!
Technology and the internet give us more opportunities than ever to connect and engage with people, forging online friendships and learning new things. It’s great that we can keep connected with friends and family no matter where in the world they are. Our research found that 68% of young people said that chatting to their friends online cheers them up! We are no longer restricted by where we live or who we are – for those of us with access to the internet (nearly 4.5 billion or 58% of the population), the world is open.
An open world is a brilliant place!
Connections, online friendships, and happiness
For example, you might think that nobody understands just how much you love your favourite hobby. Thanks to the internet, though, you are only a few clicks away from meeting someone 1,000 miles away who is just as big a fan of mushrooms or Japanese literature or extreme ironing (yes, it’s a real thing) as you are!
A connected world helps us to meet new people and expand our horizons, as well as helping us keep in touch and connected with those we really are about. Those new people we meet can grow into online friendships, and from them we can find communities and connection, both of which help to build our confidence and sense of belonging. These are really important things and there has been lots of research that shows feeling connected online can make us happier and healthier.
But, on the other hand, a connected world also means that we can be exposed to people and groups that might be harmful, offensive or may not have our best interests at heart. Finding friendships online is wonderful – finding rudeness and hostility is not. If you ever are worried about the way someone is behaving towards you or your friends online, it’s important to speak to someone, whether that’s an adult you trust or a helpline like The Mix or Childline.
So, this World Friendship Day, we want to ask…
What does a good friend look like online?
It’s really important that we treat people online the way we would want to be treated ourselves, with respect, empathy and kindness. We also need to make sure we surround ourselves with good friends, too.
We’ve put together a checklist that you can complete to help you be a good friend online – and you can also use it to check that the people you talk to online are being good friends too.
Take a look at our list below or print off the checklist so you can have a regular reminder about what it means to have safe and happy online friendships.
- I treat people kindly
- I tell an adult if a friend or I feel unsafe
- I keep information about others and myself safe
- I make other people feel welcome
- I know that it’s okay to be different
- I ask my friends before I share posts or pictures that include them
- I help my friends if they are being treated badly
- I report people who target me or my friends online
- I know that things I do online have an impact offline too
- I make the internet a better place
Happy World Friendship Day from the UK Safer Internet Centre to everyone reading! Celebrate your online friendships today and keep on being a brilliant friend to everyone, whether you know them online or offline.