SN (social networking) sites have certainly changed the way that researchers and analysists have looked at the way technology has changed the flow of social interaction amongst teens, whether it be verbally in-person or online.(Livingstone, S., & Brake, D. R. (2010) Social media, according to Oxford, is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Researchers have come to realize that social media is not just a fun site for people to interact with or network through, but it has been shown throughout the years, to affect different aspects of health in a majority of participants.
Among many others, social media has certainly made an impact on the average teen’s self-esteem levels. Three major sectors that seem to be common in studying the relationship between social media and self-esteem are: social comparison, identification, and self-perception.
For example, “the self-comparison theory states that theory individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse. People sometimes compare themselves to others as a way of fostering self-improvement, self-motivation, and a positive self-image.” Whereas with identification, it is “the action or process of identifying someone or something or the fact of being identified.” Lastly, self-perception, a theory, “posits that people determine their attitudes and preferences by interpreting the meaning of their own behavior.”
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There was study conducted on “unobservable behavior” or covert behavior, which in fact shows how people may or may not take time to catch if his or her behavior, is affecting their personal attitudes toward someone or something and sometimes-even preferences on certain choices. (Andreassen C.S., Pallesen S., Griffiths M.D. (2017) Other studies have shown that confidence levels within an individual have been affected due to the use of social media as well as comparing oneself to other people or other societal expectations of people. For example, when a person looks at a public figure on Instagram, studies have shown that identification and comparison are the two prominent behaviors that take place. “By identifying with a thinner woman in a picture, a viewer might have a brief moment of pleasure as she imagines that she too is, or could be, as slim and maybe just as “attractive” as the lady in the picture. However in social comparison, a woman looking at another woman in a picture might consider how she compared to her, shows the standard of what it is to “look like” a woman.” (Andreassen C.S., Pallesen S., Griffiths M.D. (2017)
“The impact of core self-evaluations (e.g., self-esteem)” are starting to take on a significant role for users in the social media realm. ( Andreassen C.S., Pallesen S., Griffiths M.D. 2017) For example, if an individual thinks, “People never like me” or “I lack social skills” yet they thrive on the idea of having a larger number of following, this can possibly result in he or she to increase their usage of the SN site. In line with this, research has shown that people with low self-esteem view SN sites as safe zone. (Forest & Wood, 2012).
On the other hand, some researchers have found that using social platforms, such as Instagram, provide a sense of motivation. (Lee, E., Lee, J.-A., Moon, J. H., & Sung, Y. (2015) “While Facebook is still the most popular SNS (Social Networking Site), with 71% of all online adults an account, Instagram has proven that pictures speak louder than words.” (Lee, E., Lee, J.-A., Moon, J. H., & Sung, Y. (2015). “Research in 2014” has shown that most adolescent in America have an Instagram account, but more than half are on the site on a daily basis. “The majority of its 300 million monthly active users are outside the United States, peaking at around one-third in the Middle East and Africa (34%) and Latin America (33%).” (Lee, E., Lee, J.-A., Moon, J. H., & Sung, Y. (2015) An important factor about these findings is that both “age and sex were not found to be significant variables” for determining personal views and purposes of using the app. (Lee, E., Lee, J.-A., Moon, J. H., & Sung, Y. (2015)
The core of online communication appears to come up during the construct of a person trying to develop a representation of themselves or when creating a brand for oneself, which is potentially criticized, positively and negatively, by a person’s social circle. (Livingstone, S., & Brake, D. R. (2010) Through all of this, researchers believe that teens are creating a profile that displays themselves online, but during the process there is a sense of pleasure in creating this “project of self.” Overall, the most important and reoccurring behavior in all of these studies, is the youth’s “desire to connect with peers anywhere, anytime in order to express themselves and share experiences.” (Livingstone, S., & Brake, D. R. (2010)
- Andreassen C.S., Pallesen S., Griffiths M.D. (2017). Addictive Behaviors. The
relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. 64. pp. 287-293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.006
- Amanda L. Forest, Joanne V. Wood. (2012). When Social Networking Is Not Working:
Individuals With Low Self-Esteem Recognize but Do Not Reap the Benefits of Self-Disclosure on Facebook Research Article.
- Lee, E., Lee, J.-A., Moon, J. H., & Sung, Y. (2015). Pictures Speak Louder than Words:
Motivations for Using Instagram. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 18(9), 552–556. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2015.0157
- Livingstone, S., & Brake, D. R. (2010). On the Rapid Rise of Social Networking Sites:
New Findings and Policy Implications. Children & Society, 24(1), 75–83. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009.00243.x
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