(Information sent by the signatory company)

According to the research “The value of friendship in adolescence and youth 2023” carried out by Fad Juventud and Fundación SM

Youth value trust, sincerity and reciprocity as essential elements in the formation of lasting friendships. Despite digital challenges, these basic principles remain key to fostering deep and meaningful connections

Contrary to the stereotype, far from promoting isolation, social networks are revealed as vital spaces where concerns are expressed and shared, cultivating friendships. But its use poses challenges in friendships, such as managing response time, the feeling of saturation and overexposure, and the challenge of voluntarily disconnecting.

The research highlights the efforts of Spanish youth to overcome gender stereotypes and foster more empathetic and authentic friendly relationships between different genders.

The research data have been presented at a press conference by the Reina Sofía Center of Fad Juventud and the Observatory of Youth in Ibero-America of the SM Foundation at the Nuestra Señora del memoria School.

May 23, Madrid.- Friendship continues to be one of the basic pillars in the hierarchy of youth values ​​and among the things they consider most important, offering a bastion of stability for youth in Spain. They recognize the importance that friends have as an essential reference outside the family, which until adolescence constitutes practically the entire universe of their life.

Why is friendship a central pillar in adolescence? Firstly, because it gives youth the feeling of being valued, offering a space where someone capable of understanding them really listens to and respects them. In short, they feel that they “matter”, and that provides security. Furthermore, they point out that friendships not only show you who you are, but they also teach you things that improve you as a person. They act, to a certain extent, as a security mesh, generating fundamental sensations for social and personal development such as integration, empathy, loyalty, trust or respect.

Contrary to the stereotype that associates digital with isolation, social networks can help adolescents develop the bonds of friendship necessary to build their identity. However, not everyone manages to create that safety net, facing risks of personal imbalances. This not only affects the formation of their personal identity, but also influences their actions: routines, habits and the way they approach activities and life in general.

These are some of the main findings of the study “The value of friendship in adolescence and youth 2023”, prepared by Fad Juventud and the SM Foundation, which was presented today at a press conference by the General Director of the SM Foundation , Mayte Ortiz; the general director of Fad Juventud, Beatriz Martín Padura; the coordinator of Educational Research and Evaluation of the SM Foundation, Ariana Pérez Coutado; the director of the Reina Sofía Center of Fad Juventud, Anna Sanmartín; and the researcher and author of the study, Ignacio Megías.


Friendship not only provides a sense of companionship and belonging, but is also essential for emotional and personal development. In fact, many young people value their friendships as a source of unconditional support and mutual understanding.

According to the data from the research, in which 40 young people participated and which included holding discussion groups, triangular groups and the analysis of personal diaries, friends act as mirrors, reflecting and validating their own personality, which gives them It helps cement your sense of identity and belonging in a world often perceived as fragmented and volatile.

Furthermore, young Spaniards reaffirm the importance of trust, sincerity and reciprocity as essential pillars in the formation of lasting relationships. These principles are not only key to fostering deep and meaningful connections, but they also act as foundations for friendships that withstand challenges, both personal and technological.

The COVID-19 pandemic tested the resilience of these relationships. In times of limited interaction, research shows that digital tools were essential in maintaining and strengthening friendships.

Far from promoting isolation, social networks are revealed as vital spaces where adolescents and young people not only express themselves and share concerns, but also manage their intimacy with maturity. These digital platforms, often criticized for superficializing relationships, actually tend to strengthen the bonds of friendship and facilitate deep mutual understanding.

Through social networks and digital communications, young people have learned to appreciate solitude without feeling alone, an essential balance for personal self-care. Technologies, far from being a vehicle for disconnection, have allowed young people and adolescents to establish limits and promote self-knowledge.

Furthermore, youth show notable responsibility in communication mediated by technology. They are perfectly aware of not leaving their friends “hanging” in digital conversations, aware of the emotional impact that their actions can have. This caring attitude reflects a serious commitment to empathy and consideration for others.

For many young people, friends become a “chosen family,” a testament to how the line between family and friendship relationships is blurring. This phenomenon highlights how youth value and prioritize relationships based on trust, mutual respect and emotional affinity.


TRICOs have revolutionized the way youth interact and maintain friendships, presenting both challenges and opportunities for interpersonal connection. Youth not only face these challenges with resilience, but have also developed effective strategies to strengthen their social ties through technology.

One of the main challenges that youth face in the digital context is response time management. Faced with pressure to respond immediately, many young people are setting clear boundaries and learning to prioritize meaningful interactions over speed, thereby reducing the anxiety associated with constant communication.

Another important challenge is the feeling of digital saturation and overexposure. To combat digital fatigue, young people opt for periods of disconnection, focusing on activities outside the digital sphere. This practice not only preserves intimacy, but also fosters deeper, more authentic face-to-face relationships.

Effective emotional communication is another aspect that poses challenges in the digital environment. In response to the absence of non-verbal cues in digital communication, young people use emojis, GIFs and other visual elements to add an emotional dimension to their conversations, which helps prevent misunderstandings and enrich interaction.

Voluntary disconnection is becoming a statement of autonomy and mental health. Choosing when and how to disconnect is being recognized as an essential skill for maintaining healthy, long-lasting relationships, thus fostering personal independence and mutual respect among friends.


The study also explores how gender discourses manifest in friendships, revealing that traditional stereotypes still influence how young people of different genders experience and manage their relationships:

●       Expectations of communication and emotional support: Traditionally, women are expected to provide emotional support, while men are expected to take action. However, young people are challenging these social norms by seeking balance and depth in their interactions, regardless of gender.

●       Activities and ways of relating: while men tend to focus on group activities and humor-based communication, women prioritize emotional and physical contact in their friendships. However, there is a growing tendency among young people of both genders to merge these styles to form more complete and satisfying relationships.

●       Deconstruction of gender roles: a large part of youth is advocating for greater emotional and communicative openness, especially among men, and seeking relationships that transcend traditional prejudices and expectations.

These trends indicate a progressive change towards more inclusive and equitable relationships, where gender roles are being reviewed and reformulated to reflect a society more aware and adapted to the realities of today’s youth.


Accepting that friendship, even one that was believed to be eternal and unbreakable, can end, undoubtedly generates a bitter residue.

Throughout the conversations about loss with the young participants in the study, it is evident that for many people it generates traumatic experiences.

From a general discourse, there is a tendency to transform resignation (the friendship ends) into learning, by shielding oneself by lowering expectations. But it is evident that through the path of resignation and reduction of expectations (and illusions?) some emotions and feelings are not neutralized or adequately managed, such as the possible feeling of guilt for not having known how to preserve something that was theoretically ideal, and it is one of the few bastions that exist.

But there is another aspect that is perhaps more relevant, and that is that the testimonies that oscillate between resignation and bitterness do not hide something that seems evident: socially there is no education for the loss of friendship, nor for facing the corresponding grief. Because, for example, the loss of a relationship, and all the emotions associated with that process, is talked about publicly, addressed (among friends), acceptance and improvement strategies are offered, etc. Something that does not seem to happen with respect to friendship, a circumstance that reveals the urgency of improving the sentimental education associated with friendship relationships.


Fad Juventud (www.fad.es) is a private and independent foundation whose purpose is to improve the well-being and quality of life of youth.

To achieve this, Fad Juventud ANALYZES, ACTS AND INFLUENCES everything that affects the development of youth:

● ANALYZES the universe of youth, monitors it, detects risks and opportunities, and anticipates trends.

● ACTIVE in Spain and Latin America through educational projects and training programs; awareness campaigns; and information and guidance services.

● INFLUENCES youth directly or indirectly through their families, their school environment and their community; of public opinion and public policies

Focuses on your health and well-being; employment and emancipation; education and digital citizenship; and gender and values.

Generates social impact and opportunities for youth through alliances and projects with companies, non-governmental organizations and the public sector.


SM Foundation

The SM Foundation is a non-profit educational institution that is present in 7 Latin American countries. She has been working for more than 45 years so that, through education, no girl or boy is left behind.

It directs all its initiatives towards improving educational equity and quality. He is backed by more than forty-five years of experience in the development of educational and cultural projects in Spain and Latin American countries.

The SM Foundation allocates the benefits derived from SM’s business activity to programs that, through education, seek to contribute to a more inclusive, fair, peaceful and sustainable world.

Prestige and reliability of SM Foundation reports

“Youth and Friendship” is situated within the framework of a more extensive work that the SM Foundation is developing with the Observatory of Youth in Ibero-America (www.observatoriodelajuventud.org) which is a program of the SM Foundation with more than thirty years of dedication to research on youth, education and culture that, throughout its career, has prepared dozens of reports to understand the concerns, interests and motivations of youth.

For more information:

Communication SM Spain