Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 402–416 | Cite as

Online Self-Presentation on Facebook and Self Development During the College Transition

  • Chia-chen Yang
  • B. Bradford Brown
Empirical Research


Self-presentation, a central element of young people’s identity development, now extends from face-to-face contexts to social networking sites. Online self-presentation may change when youth transition to college, faced with the need to reclaim or redefine themselves in the new environment. Drawing on theories of self-presentation and self development, this study explores changes in youth’s online self-presentation during their transition to a residential college. It also examines associations between online self-presentation and students’ self-esteem and self-concept clarity. We surveyed 218 college freshmen (M age = 18.07; 64 % female, 79 % White) at the beginning and again at the end of their first semester. Freshmen’s Facebook self-presentation became less restricted later in the semester. Broad, deep, positive, and authentic Facebook self-presentation was positively associated with perceived support from the audience, which contributed to higher self-esteem contemporaneously, though not longitudinally. Intentional Facebook self-presentation engaged students in self-reflection, which was related to lower self-concept clarity concurrently but higher self-esteem longitudinally. Findings clarified the paths from multifaceted online self-presentation to self development via interpersonal and intrapersonal processes during college transition.


Self-presentation Identity Self-esteem Self-concept clarity College transition Social media Social networking site 


Author Contribution

C-cY conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, collected data, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript; BBB participated in the design and coordination of the study, interpreted the results, and critically revised the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of interests

The authors report no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and ResearchUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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