Connecting Online Behavior to Adolescent Development: A Theoretical Framework

  • Kaveri Subrahmanyam
  • David Šmahel
Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


Adolescence is a period of tremendous change and many view it as a period of “storm and stress.” Although we now know that adolescence is not always a turbulent period, the storm and stress view, has come to frame questions about the role of interactive technologies in adolescent development, the focus of this book. In this chapter, we present the developmental approach that we use throughout the book to examine the role of digital media in adolescent development. The first part of the chapter reviews some of the lessons learnt from developmental psychology. We briefly describe three core adolescent developmental issues – sexuality, identity, and intimacy – around which the first part of this book is organized. Then we argue that we must treat digital worlds as another social context for adolescent development along the lines of familiar ones such as families, peers, and schools. The second part of the chapter examines the role of digital media during adolescence and presents our co-construction model of adolescents’ online behavior, which suggests that adolescents’ online and offline worlds are psychologically connected. Consequently, adolescents may bring the issues and people from their offline worlds to their online ones. We discuss the implications of our co-construction model for understanding the role of digital media in young people’s development.


Romantic Relationship Social Networking Site Romantic Partner Digital Medium Adolescent Development 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Social StudiesMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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