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The pimples. The braces. The ill-timed growth spurt. The teen years can be awkward. But add  the fact that nowadays they often communicate via text or Facebook message, and socializing in person becomes even more difficult. “We don’t really talk on the phone,” says fifteen-year-old Chris Rieger. “It’s really not a popular thing.”

Instead, the Providence High freshman estimates he spends about five hours a day on Facebook after school is out. “I talk more on Facebook than on the phone,” he says, adding that some of his friends actually skip activities, preferring instead to make sure they don’t miss a single status update on Facebook. (According to, the teen demographic makes up 12 percent of the site’s 350 million users.) Rieger has noticed that because of Facebook and text messaging, a lot of kids his age don’t know how to act around each other. “People don’t know how to talk anymore. They’re really outgoing on Facebook, but in person they don’t have very good social skills. They can’t hold a conversation with anybody.”

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