A comparison of Facebook friendship quality between college-aged individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Open Access
Lebold, Samantha Anne
Area of Honors:
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Erinn Heer Finke, Thesis Supervisor
  • Ingrid Maria Blood, Honors Advisor
  • Facebook
  • friendships
  • ASD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • social media
  • friendship quality
High-quality friendships are crucial aspects of development and well-being across the lifespan. In recent years, social media sites, such as Facebook, have allowed for new channels of communication and interaction between friends. Previous studies have reported individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have deficits in friendship maintenance and social communication (Bauminger & Kasari, 2000). Additionally, individuals with ASD participate in social interactions on social media sites, yet still struggle to connect with friends on social media (Orsmond & Kuo, 2011). The purpose of this study was to compare the perceived quality of friendships carried out on Facebook by neurotypically developing young adults with those of young adults with ASD. The validated Friendship Quality was used to define friendship quality and was adapted to be applicable to Facebook. The results of an online survey were used to compare the responses of 134 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 with ASD to those of 258 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who were neurotypically developing. The results indicated statistically different responses regarding participants' beliefs about interactions within Facebook groups and private Facebook messages. While results indicated young adults with ASD feel closer to other members of Facebook groups, the two samples felt similarly that membership in a Facebook group led to increased feelings of acceptance. Results also indicated that young adults with ASD do not feel comfortable sending private messages to friends, and struggle to perceive the mood of a friend over private Facebook messages.