Teens With Higher Social Self-Esteem Use Social Network Sites More Often
It is often assumed that the use of social network sites (SNS) such as Facebook and Instagram can boost teens’ social self-esteem. Interestingly, a study in Computers in Human Behavior shows that it is the other way around: it’s not teens’ SNS use that increases their self-esteem, but their self-esteem that increases their SNS use. Teens who feel more accepted and liked by their friends and who feel more successful in forming and maintaining friendships use SNS more often, both on the short- and the long-term.
- Teens who feel more accepted and liked by their friends are more likely to use social network sites over time.
- Teens who use SNS more often only feel slightly more accepted and liked by their friends over time.
- Teens who use SNS more often receive more instant positive feedback on their posts, which results in a short-term boost in social self-esteem.
- Parents and educators can play an important role in enhancing the positive effects of SNS use by helping teens encourage positive and prevent negative online feedback as this may enhance self-esteem.
What is the relation between teens’ use of social network sites and their social self-esteem?
Between 852 (first wave; mean age: 12 years old; 51% girls) and 750 teens (third wave; mean age: 14 years old; 53% girls)
Data was collected at three time points between September 2012 and December 2014. At each time point, the participating teens filled out the same questionnaire, including questions about their feeling of being accepted and liked by their friends and peers, and about whether they found it easy to make and maintain friends (social self-esteem). They were further asked how often they used social network sites, such as Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, and how often they received positive feedback from close friends and acquaintances.
Facts and findings
- Teens’ social self-esteem influenced their social network site (SNS) use over time: teens who felt more accepted by their friends on the first time point were more likely to use social network sites on the second and third time point.
- The long-term effect of using SNS on teens’ social self-esteem is small: teens who used SNS more often on the first time point, only felt slightly more accepted by their friends on the second and third time point.
- On the short-term, SNS use and teens’ social self-esteem were also related. This relation could be explained by positive feedback: Teens who used SNS more often also received more positive feedback on their posts from their friends, which in turn resulted in higher social self-esteem.