How to manage online friendships  

It’s been a tough year for friendships given homeschooling, social distancing, not interacting in big groups and all the other weirdness…

Without as much face to face interaction, you’ve probably been spending quite a bit of time online, on social media and texting in order to keep in touch with your BFFs.

Communicating largely through written text can be a bit tricky sometimes. It can be difficult to explain your tone through words and misunderstandings can arise. Sometimes the best thing is to just hash things out in an actual verbal conversation. However, with online communication now a part of everyone’s lives, here are some handy ways to help manage your friendships.

Don’t panic if someone doesn’t respond straight away

Sometimes you may think if someone hasn’t responded to your message straight away that they’re ignoring you. Or perhaps if they just get back with a few short words they’re angry. However, that’s not always the case, so it’s important not to jump to conclusions. There may actually be something deeper going on, or they could just be busy! That’s why it’s important to check in and connect with your friends regularly online so you get to know their pattern of response.

Keep the connection going

Talk to your friends and find out how often you should be touching base online. It’s a good idea to schedule time in with a friend and have it recurring in your calendar. It may feel a little formal, like a meeting, but when it’s in the diary there’s no hurt feelings about ‘forgetting about each other’ and you’ll also look forward to it! Sometimes when you have more conversations more often, it becomes more comfortable to share the uncomfortable things too!

Make emojis your best friend 

When we are with our friends in ‘real life’ we can naturally convey what we want to say easily, because we have the help of our facial expressions and body language. When communicating with our friends virtually, sometimes we don’t see others’ facial expressions and body language. Because of this, sometimes friends can misinterpret what you’re trying to convey! When texting or writing, a really great tip is to use more emojis to help convey the tone. A simple heart or kiss emoji can go a long way.

Get creative online

So just because you’re on your phone or computer a lot, it doesn’t mean that every online interaction has to be through your fingers! Why not set up a group chat and organise a Zoom call so you and your friends can all chat and see each other’s faces? Or else you could all arrange to watch a movie together whilst online. Your friends may be really wanting to connect, but might be thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be a burden to my friends’, ‘No one else probably feels lonely like I do right now’ and so on. You’d be surprised by how many friends would be feeling the exact same feelings right now and could really do with a fun chat that doesn’t involve typing!

How to respond to cyberbullying

If you are experiencing cyberbullying, don’t be afraid to speak to someone you trust about it such as a friend, teacher or parents. It’s very easy to just push the bullying aside and ignore it, which can be a great strategy temporarily, but it’s important that you have the courage to talk to someone about it. If you are being bullied, understand that there is something deeper going with that person. Of course, this doesn’t excuse their actions, but you should know that bullying is never about you directly.

Words by Mandy Dante – CEO and founder of Flourish Girl – an online program for Teen girls.


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