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Young Adults in a Wireless World

Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI,volume 2)


Settersten (Chap. 1) describes three hallmarks of young adulthood: the need to manage uncertainty, the need for fluid self-definitions, and the need for interdependence. We discuss the implications that rapidly developing technologies such as cell phones and social networking might have in these three areas. The Internet provides constant access to information but requires skills in use and evaluation that young adults may not have. Social media provide the possibility of niche-seeking, which could increase opportunities or stifle exploration. Cell phones and the Internet offer interdependence after leaving the family of origin, but may also hinder autonomy. Students use social networking to facilitate group behavior with real-world implications, as we show with an example of a student-constructed drinking holiday. Social technologies also have implications for family formation (e.g., meeting partners, establishing intimacy, and maintaining long-distance relationships). These technologies have the potential to widen or narrow the gap between individuals from different backgrounds. Finally, we suggest future research directions, including understanding whether (1) rapidly developing technologies lead to qualitatively new sociodevelopmental phenomena, or simply new forms of well-understood phenomena, (2) existing theories of development and family relationships can accommodate behaviors arising from new forms of social technology, and (3) technology brings with it new relationship forms, and what these forms might mean for development in young adulthood.


  • Young Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Romantic Relationship
  • Social Networking Site
  • Social Connectedness

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Correspondence to Eva S. Lefkowitz Ph.D. .

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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Lefkowitz, E.S., Vukman, S.N., Loken, E. (2012). Young Adults in a Wireless World. In: Booth, A., Brown, S., Landale, N., Manning, W., McHale, S. (eds) Early Adulthood in a Family Context. National Symposium on Family Issues, vol 2. Springer, New York, NY.

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