Comforting new research conducted by Habbo Australia, the world’s largest virtual world for teens, shows that although young people perceive the internet as a valuable tool for building relationships with people they know in real life, Generation Z is generally vigilant, alert and discerning when it comes to who they connect with online.
Habbo has an astonishing 4.4 million registered teens in Australia and more than 161 million worldwide. Players create their own avatar and enter a virtual hotel that allows them to mingle and make friends with teens from all over the world. Operated by the Sulake Corporation, the twelfth fastest growing technology company in Europe, Habbo prides itself on providing an entertaining and safe environment for teens to interact.
Habbo’s recent national survey of more than 1,000 Australian teens reveals that Generation Z are doing well with protecting their identity online. The findings are part of a survey of Australians aged 13 to 18 years released just yesterday by Habbo.
Counter to some of the traditional perceptions about young people’s behaviour online, the Habbo survey findings reveal the following:
Online relationships are considered fun, not serious. Whilst 61% of teens said they have had a crush on someone they met online, the majority (57%) acknowledged that real life relationships are more important than online relationships.
Teens are selective when it comes to contacting people online. The majority (42%) of respondents revealed they would not contact someone for the first time online, in a social network, just because they liked the look of their profile picture. Only 6% said they do this “all the time.” Less than a third (31%) said they had done this once or twice.
Online activity helps boost teens social confidence. Rather than making them anti-social, teens say online activities encourage them to engage more with their real life contacts. Almost half (49%) of teens revealed they had contacted someone they liked online because they were too shy to speak to them in real life and 53% said their online ‘avatar’ can talk more openly about feelings or say things they would be too shy to say in real life.
Teens keep their online identities true to themselves. Rather than developing an ‘escapist’ online identity, the majority (57%) of teens say they keep their online identities similar to their true looks and personality.
Teens are protective about revealing their ‘avatar’ identity. When using an online ‘avatar’ identity, despite the close resemblance to their real life identity, more than half the teens surveyed said they keep their avatar identities a secret, or only reveal the identity to close friends.
Ngaire Stevens, Business Development Manager, Habbo’s parent company Sulake, explains: “There are many myths surrounding teen online relationships. People wrongly assume that teens are less careful when meeting others online, due to their age or the nature of the medium.
“The Habbo online relationships poll demonstrates that Generation Z is generally vigilant, alert and discerning when it comes to who they connect with online. They are also practical and rational, as the majority do consider real life relationships more important. However, Australian teens utilise the online medium and its applications as a tool to enhance their experiences and to provide them with confidence in relationships on and offline. This information would be useful for parents who may be concerned about who their teens are connecting with online.”
For more, see www.habbo.com.au.