Social Media, Friendship, and Happiness in the Millennial Generation
Internet social media have emerged as important contexts for friendship and social development during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. In this review, we consider how young people’s friendships via social networking sites reflect broader sociocultural shifts away from tight knit, face-to-face communities to “networked individualism,” a system of sociality that places the individual at the center of personally tailored social networks unencumbered by physical limitations (Wellman, Digital cities II: Computational and Sociological Approaches, 2002, pp. 10–25). In line with networked individualism, we propose that customized sociality is a principle cohering many of the features of friendship on social networking sites. Research suggests that adolescents and emerging adults have at their disposal convenient and efficient tools for relatedness, and at the same time, increased options for autonomy. Alongside these changes are new opportunities and risks for happiness in the journey to adulthood. Among the opportunities are increased convenience for cultivating closeness with friends and enhanced access to social information and social capital, which lend themselves to forms of social support conducive to happiness in a mobile world. The risks youth face include the allure of transient pleasures of instant gratification friendship and social snacking, increased demands to negotiate promotional self-presentations broadcasted by shallow networks of contacts, and the challenge to cultivate happiness in a social world that seems to increasingly define self-worth and life satisfaction based on image, success, and popularity.
KeywordsSocial networking sites Friendship Happiness Adolescence Emerging adulthood Peer relations Social support Self-esteem Well-being Social capital Sociocultural change Networked individualism
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