Do friendship and intimacy in virtual communications exist? An investigation of online friendship and intimacy in the context of hidden youth in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

17 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-136
Journal / PublicationRevista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


This study uses “hidden youth” in Hong Kong as an example to investigate whether online friendship and virtual intimacy are present because these young people are commonly viewed as “socially isolated” and “lacking in social skills” but actually involve in extended Internet use to engage in social interactions. Using the data from 357 hidden youth participants, a paired t-test was performed to look for the significant differences in friendship quality and intimacy between online and offline interactions in different levels of friendship. Results show that the friendship quality of offline relationships is generally slightly higher than that of online relationships, while online friendships display a generally higher intimacy level than the offline relationships. This reflects the fact that friendship and intimacy can be developed in the virtual platform and are similar to the traditional interpersonal relationships.

Research Area(s)

  • Friendship quality, Hidden youth, Intimacy, Online and offline, Virtual communication