Mobile messaging service WhatsApp helps teenagers communicate better and openly talk with their peers better than in their classrooms, a study has claimed.
The findings showed that the app groups allow teenagers to express themselves in ways that they cannot at school, helping them develop closer and more open relationships with their classmates.
“The group chats are based on trust among the members of the group, and this enhances the possibility to be in contact,” Arie Kizel from University of Haifa in Israel was quoted as saying. “The discussions on WhatsApp enable the development of a social environment that is warm and human,” Kizel added.
In order to examine the way teenagers experience this virtual space, the team included two groups of eight youngsters aged 16 and 17 and two groups of eight teenagers aged 14 to 15. The teenagers perceived the WhatsApp group as a space that breaks down the hierarchical division created at school.
One student described WhatsApp as, “A place where there is respect for language and where all those involved share common terms and signs.” Another said, “On WhatsApp, I usually feel that I am not being judged, particularly because there isn’t any eye contact or physical contact, only words and signs. So I feel more intimacy and security,” explained another participant.
The school domain often divides the class into fixed groups and friendships, created on the basis of socioeconomic status, common activities or study tracks, and so forth.
However, the WhatsApp groups break down these divisions and make the class a single, homogeneous group. “It breaks down the walls we put up between us in class. The WhatsApp group is like a class team-building day,” one participant commented.
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