Constructing Identity Online: Identity Exploration and Self-Presentation

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


From the early days of the Internet, scholars and writers have speculated that digital worlds are venues where users can leave their bodies behind and create new and different selves online. These speculations take on added significance in the context of adolescence, when individuals have to construct a coherent identity of the self. This chapter examines the role of technology in identity construction – a key adolescent developmental task. We begin by examining theoretical conceptions about identity in the context of adolescence and then explore the meaning of the terms self-presentation and virtual identity. To show how adolescents’ use technology in the service of identity, we will first describe some of the online tools they can use for self-presentation and identity construction. Then we show how adolescents use these tools to explore identity on the Internet, particularly through blogs and social networking sites; in a separate section, we show how youth use the Internet to construct their ethnic identity. Last, we turn to whether adolescents’ engage in identity experiments and online pretending and whether they have virtual personas in a psychological sense. In the conclusion section, we identify questions about online self-presentation, virtual identity, offline identity development for future research to address.


Ethnic Identity Social Networking Site Identity Development Chat Room Identity Experiment 
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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