Social networking is interfering with good old-fashioned friendships. And that has some psychologists worried. Robert Arnstein is a Yale psychiatrist and he says our crucial friend-making years are age 20 to 28. That’s when we build our most lasting relationships.

So, how is that being threatened by social networks, like Facebook? Well, to start, it’s making 20-somethings more image conscious. We feel a pressure now to not only post the most flattering pictures of ourselves – but to post the wittiest comments. So we’re not showing others a true representation of ourselves. It’s a glossy image that actually keeps people from getting to know the real you.

There’s also a limit to how many friends we can actually have. Mentally, we can’t keep track of more than 150 real-life people. But most of us have many more online friends. That means a 20-something with a thousand Facebook friends is more likely collecting friends for status purposes - not real friendship. And trying to keep track of hundreds of online friends online dilutes our energy and attention away from the people we really care about.

Lastly, 20-somethings are also plagued by FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. It’s a sense that there’s always something better going on, somewhere else. So, they’re hesitant to make plans, just in case something better comes up. And when they are with people, they’re not content. Because they may get a text or a tweet about something that sounds better, somewhere else, with someone else.

But psychologists say, instead of being fearful of missing out on the hottest party – what 20-somethigs should really be afraid of is missing out on true, long-term, real-life friendships.

Lesson Expert

Betsy Chase

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