In order to gain a broad understanding of the places – including online places – teens spend time with their closest friends, the survey presented nine different venues, activities or locations and asked teens to indicate whether they regularly spend time with their closest friend at each of these venues or activities.
Overall, school is by far the top location where teens say they spend time with their closest friends.
Throughout this chapter, the term “teen” refers to teens with a close friend, unless otherwise noted.
In this chapter, we focus on the ways in which teens interact and spend time — both digitally and in person — with the person they consider to be their “closest friend.” The intimacy and closeness of these important friend relationships is special and examining it here shines a brighter light on teens’ digital friendship practices.
In contrast to the analysis in Chapter 1, this portion of the survey involved questions that asked teens to focus on all of the ways in which they spend time and interact with the friend who is closest to them.
By stressing these particular relationships, we can focus our participants’ responses on one particular and meaningful tie.
In the context of the survey and the analysis that follows, a teen’s “closest friend” is defined as “someone you can talk to about things that are really important to you, but who is not a girlfriend or boyfriend.” Some 4% of teens in this survey indicated that they do not have anyone in their life who fits this criteria, and an additional 1% were not willing to indicate whether they have a closest friend or not.