Teens and Online Friends


What were you doing when you were 15?

I was in 10th grade (like most of us were),  I had soccer practice a couple of days a week. I was friends with the kids on my bus, and in my classes. I answered the phone that was on the wall and typically talked for hours…not even giving it a thought how many minutes or how much data I used. I wrote letters to my cousins in Canada and got excited when I received a letter back weeks later. My social circle was generally within a 15 mile radius…minus the international correspondence with my Canadian relatives.

I now have a 15 year old son who has friends in Mississippi, Connecticut,  Canada and Europe to name a few. He has a plethora of options when choosing how to “hang” with them; text, chat room, games, Skype. The friendships made online are unique in that they are based on commonalities and similar interests vs. geography or having classes together in school. There is always someone out there who is like you even if they are not right there next to you. There is a  level of anonymity creating friends on line. Certainly there are aspects of this that could make one a bit nervous. There are also benefits. There is a sense of control when making online friends.

Teen online friends


Don’t worry, I feel all of your hearts palpitating at the thought of on-line friends. I hear your thoughts, “they’re all predators, that’s not safe, how do you know they are really kids he’s talking to? Trust me, it takes adjusting to. It takes trust and communication with your child. We have spent time on Skype with our son’s friends getting to meet them, laughing with them, meeting their parents and even coordinating opportunities to travel and meet them in person.

There can be amazing learning opportunities from having friends on-line. It’s kind of an interesting way for a kid from Vermont to learn about Kudzu and eating Cajun craw fish. He has learned about the differences between the Canadian education system and the American.

Online friends certainly don’t replace school friends or neighborhood friends but, they are equally as important to your child. You would be amazed what you can “do” with online friends. We’ve witnessed movie nights, karaoke competitions and games of Risk and Monopoly, all on line. We hear shouts of laughter and we talk about these friends by name just like we do “traditional” friends.

For our family, being open and flexible to making friends online has been a positive experience.

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Tricia Becker
I’m originally a Maine-ah. I came to Burlington in 1991 to attend Champlain College and now consider Vermont home sweet home. My husband and I have a fantabulous 15 year old son, a spunky little dachshund mix and 6 feisty free-range chickens. Up until our son was in third grade I worked outside the home like many moms, challenged by the daily demands of work and family. In 2007 I became ill and as a result lost my job of 14 years. Hmm, blessing in disguise! I was forced to reinvent myself as a stay at home mom and had to figure out what I wanted to be. I’ve always had a thing for baking and bit of a creative side. Jump forward 5 or 6 years and we have built a home in Georgia VT complete with a commercial bakery. Our business, Cookie Doodlez, is proving to be a fun adventure. I continue to try and figure out this mom stuff, even after 15 years.


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