• Teenagers’ Behavior Carries Over Onto Facebook, Myspace

    • A new study conducted by University of Virginia psychologists suggests that well-adapted youth with positive friendships will use social networking sites like facebook and myspace to enhance the positive relationships they already have. The study also indicates, however, that teens who have behavioral problems and difficulty making friends, or who are depressed, may be more inclined to use social media in negative and sometimes aggressive ways, or not to use such sites at all.

    • The study appears in the January issue of Developmental Psychology.

    • Researchers assessed the friendship quality and popularity of 172 13- to 14-year-olds, and then, eight years later, “friended” the study participants on their Facebook and MySpace pages to examine their interactions and friendship quality in those domains.

    • youths who were better adjusted in their early teens were more likely to use social media in their early 20s, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or parental income, and that, overall, the patterns of friendship quality and behavioral adjustment as early teens continued into early adulthood.

    • parents of well-adjusted teens may have little to worry about regarding the way their children behave when using social media. It’s likely to be similar positive behavior.”

    • teens with behavioral problems or who have difficulty maintaining positive friendships may be more likely to use social media sites in negative ways, just as they may behave negatively in their face-to-face relationships. Negative use of the sites would include using excessive profanity, making hostile remarks or aggressive gestures, or posting nude photographs of themselves or others. They also have fewer supportive relationships with their Facebook and MySpace friends. But this group also is less inclined to use social media at all.

    • “Use of Facebook and MySpace is really pervasive among this age group, so it’s understandable that young people would want to be connected with their peers in this way; it’s an extension of the relationships they already share,” Mikami said. “So parents should try to stay involved with their children and make an attempt to understand their online world in the same way they would want to understand any other aspect of their lives.

    • Citation: Mikami et al., ‘Adolescent peer relationships and behavior problems predict young adults’ communication on social networking websites’, Developmental Psychology, January 2010, 46 (1), 46-56

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