Social Media are the websites and applications that exist in the internet that facilitates relationships between networks of people (Kitsantas). Social media sites have grown tremendously over the last decades. Most of this growth can be attributed to the advancement in technology and globalisation. Examples of popular social Media sites today are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Myspace, and Whatsapp. Here people can exchange personal informations, ideas, feelings, videos, pictures, everywhere and anywhere in the world at a very fast rate. Majority of the users of social media are young people. More than 70% of the youth in this country are using social media sites. Most of these young people are in colleges and high schools (Sponcil, 02). Today young people would rather spend time online chatting, reading and watching different stuffs in the social networks instead of engaging in face to face communication with family members or their friends. As such social media has a great influence on how teenagers communicates with others and their view of self-concept
According to (Sponcil), the human development theory by Milton H. Erickson shows that the late adolescence is the time a person exhibits prospects of worldwide view, love and work. Majority of the youth in colleges are in that phase of life where they are trying to find and make sense of their self-worth at the same time exploring the possibilities and opportunities that are before them, in terms of world view, work and love. At this stage, popularly known as identity formation period, the young men and women are trying to figure out what they are as a person. During this dynamic period of exploration and change, these young men and women may seek opinions from their peers or any person they are free with, in order to foster self-identity. Social media has offered one of the safest, free, and open avenue for such endeavours. Most young people are not confident about such personal matter and fear going public with such details (Sponcil, 07). The social media, to some great extends, offers anonymity, thus the young man or woman can fake an account and get whatever information she or he needs. At the same time, those who have find it difficult to express themselves in public, find it easy to update whatever they wish online. Therefore social media presents young people with an outlet and an avenue for identity exploration through peer feedbacks and influences.
In terms of creating relationship, where dating or casual friendship. Social media comes in handy. Unlike the 90s where boy had to meet girl on a face to face means in order to foster some kind or relationship. The social sites have made things much easier especially for the shy ones (Kitsantas). The boy can approach the girl indirectly by in boxing them or posting something on their timelines. This communication begins and grows until they are both confident enough to meet in person. This clearly shows that social media is becoming a substitute for face to face communication among the youth.
AS for self-concept, the youth use social media as it empowers them to take up an active role in the socialization process helping them to create their own self-identities. Most social media sites like Face book, allows users to create a personal profile where the user can include information about them by posting updates, photos and videos. A personal profile help them present themselves to their followers in the way they want to be perceived (Sponcil, 10). For most youth, presenting an attractive personal profile that is admired by many is a way to improve the self-concept. Therefore many teenagers engage in selective presentation opting to present their best to their social crowd in order to impress them and attract positive feedback, which in turn boost their esteem
According to Annett theory, for young people between the ages of 18-25 years, it is a period of independence and freedom as most of them are away from parents in institutions of higher learning (Sponcil, 11). At this stage, self-disclosure is usually a big challenge. Most of them are very cautious about opening up especially at the risk of criticism or rejection. They crave for validation and positive feedback especially from their peers. Most of them opt to get these feedback from social media by fronting the best about themselves and even faking personality. They use social media to feel popular adding as many friends as possible. Some will fashioned an ideal self that is capable of attracting the maximum followers. The creation of social capital and faking appearance boost both their online and real world self-concept. Receiving social support from other users help maintain the social networks improving the online experience among teenagers (Kitsantas). Comments on pictures a timeline posts improves ones image and how others view them. A timely response from a follower elicit a good feeling and gratification of both personal and interpersonal desires. At the same time, a dislike, or negative comment has the opposite effects.
While it last, Social media makes and breaks communication and the idea of self-concept among teenagers around the world. The shaping the basics of communication and self-concept is very important in human development, leaving it in the hands of social media is precarious. However, the importance of these sites cannot be downcast. Perhaps the young people need to be taught how to strike a balance.
Kitsantas, Anastasia, et al. "College Students Perceptions of Positive and Negative Effects of Social Networking." Social Networking and Education. Springer International Publishing, 2016. 225-238.
Sponcil, Megan, and Priscilla Gitimu. "Use of social media by college students: Relationship to communication and self-concept." Journal of Technology Research 4 (2012): 16-28.
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