Social network profiles as information sources for adolescents' offline relations

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2012 Jun;15(6):290-5. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0557.


This article presents the results of a study concerning the use of online profile pages by adolescents to know more about "offline" friends and acquaintances. Previous research has indicated that social networking sites (SNSs) are used to gather information on new online contacts. However, several studies have demonstrated a substantial overlap between offline and online social networks. Hence, we question whether online connections are meaningful in gathering information on offline friends and acquaintances. First, the results indicate that a combination of passive uncertainty reduction (monitoring a target's profile) and interactive uncertainty reduction (communication through the target's profile) explains a considerable amount of variance in the level of uncertainty about both friends and acquaintances. More specifically, adolescents generally get to know much more about their acquaintances. Second, the results of online uncertainty reduction positively affect the degree of self-disclosure, which is imperative in building a solid friend relation. Further, we find that uncertainty reduction strategies positively mediate the effect of social anxiety on the level of certainty about friends. This implies that socially anxious teenagers benefit from SNSs by getting the conditions right to build a more solid relation with their friends. Hence, we conclude that SNSs play a substantial role in today's adolescents' everyday interpersonal communication.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Networking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires