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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Youth are growing up amid profound sociocultural change driven by the worldwide spread of the Internet and social media that position the individual at the center of expansive social networks unrestricted by physical propinquity. This chapter reviews literature on the use of social networking sites among adolescents and emerging adults in Western societies and stakes out potential implications for identity development, arguing that social networking sites usher in new practices and meanings for interpersonal relatedness and personal autonomy that adolescents and emerging adults must negotiate during the process of exploration and commitment in identity formation. The concept of customized sociality as well as personal self-expression are key to managing these large social networks. Customized sociality and self-expression are cultural practices that manifest an emphasis on autonomy during identity development; however, ironically, evidence suggests that social networking sites may also foster a reliance on others to validate one’s identity claims, value, and self-worth.

Keywords: Social networking sites, friendship, autonomy, relatedness, sociocultural change, identity development

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