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Daytona Beach


Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology

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Online social technologies are now used by a majority of individuals in the U.S. (Pew, 2018a). Sending emails, texting, posting on social media sites, and connecting with others through online gaming open up our social networks to a wider range of individuals. As a result, it is not uncommon to develop friendships with others that are conducted primarily in an online environment. However, we know little about the qualities of online friendships and how they may, or may not, differ from traditional face to face friendships. The present study focused on exploring friendship quality in online and offline domains using two different groups: a gamer group and a non-gamer group that used non-gaming applications to connect with others online. All participants completed a demographic questionnaire to gather information about their online and face to face friendships, the McGill Friendship Questionnaire (Mendelsohn and Aboud, 2014) for their closest online and offline friends and measures of happiness, anxiety, and depression. In Study 1, within group comparison found that gamers’ online friendships were of significantly higher quality than their offline friendships. For non-gamers, the opposite results were found. A second study was done using a larger, non-college-based sample. Results of Study 2 found that for gamers and non-gamers offline friendships were of higher quality than online friendships, although both types of friendships existed in both groups. There were no differences between groups in general life happiness, anxiety or depression. Suggestions for follow-up research are presented.