Growing Up Wired: Social Networking Sites and Adolescent Psychosocial Development

Abstract

Since the advent of social networking site (SNS) technologies, adolescents’ use of these technologies has expanded and is now a primary way of communicating with and acquiring information about others in their social network. Overall, adolescents and young adults’ stated motivations for using SNSs are quite similar to more traditional forms of communication—to stay in touch with friends, make plans, get to know people better, and present oneself to others. We begin with a summary of theories that describe the role of SNSs in adolescents’ interpersonal relationships, as well as common methodologies used in this field of research thus far. Then, with the social changes that occur throughout adolescence as a backdrop, we address the ways in which SNSs intersect with key tasks of adolescent psychosocial development, specifically peer affiliation and friendship quality, as well as identity development. Evidence suggests that SNSs differentially relate to adolescents’ social connectivity and identity development, with sociability, self-esteem, and nature of SNS feedback as important potential moderators. We synthesize current findings, highlight unanswered questions, and recommend both methodological and theoretical directions for future research.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by NIH-NIMH NRSA Grant F31MH087029 awarded to Spies Shapiro and NIH-NICHD Grant R01 HD046807 awarded to Margolin. We would like to thank Kristene Hossepian for her helpful contributions to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lauren A. Spies Shapiro.

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Spies Shapiro, L.A., Margolin, G. Growing Up Wired: Social Networking Sites and Adolescent Psychosocial Development. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 17, 1–18 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-013-0135-1

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Keywords

  • Adolescent psychosocial development
  • Social networking sites
  • Friendships
  • Identity
  • Self-esteem