Effect of the Internet and Social Media in general on Developmental Psychology of Adolescents

Effect of the Internet and Social Media in general on Developmental Psychology of Adolescents


Human development is a subfield of psychology that deals with developmental psychology. Developmental psychology focuses on how people grow, develop, and adapt to the various stages in their lifespan. Adolescence is the intermediate stage between childhood and adulthood. It is a stage that is regarded as transitional and is characterized not only by physical changes but also emotional and social changes. The era of the internet and social media has provided a double-edged sword to adolescents. The internet has offered a positive effect on adolescents but has also brought in negative effects that further complicate the volatile nature of the adolescence stage.

The developmental areas of adolescents impacted by social media and the internet include intellectual development, cognitive skill, perceptions of reality, social development, and relationships (Victor, 2017).

Positive Influence of Internet and Social Media

Victor (2017) continues to state that social media influences positively the health and development of adolescents. Social media has enabled adolescents to develop relationships made in other areas of their day to day lives like schools and sports events. Social media has also enabled adolescents to develop connectedness with each other and learn about new opportunities from each other. Social media networking opportunities have been implicated in raising self-esteem and a sense of belongingness among adolescents (Best, Manktelow, & Taylor, 2014). The internet has provided an avenue for adolescents to explore their passion, social status, and cultures like learning about new television programs, video games, and music. A survey called ‘Internet and American Life Project’ carried out by Pew Research Center in 2010 found out that 93% of American teens (ages 12-17) used to go online while 73% of them used social networking sites(SNS) (Soo-Kim, 2016) . This age group of individuals was also identified as being the highest consumers of social media more than any other age-group. This infers that social media and internet communication is a fundamental part of their upbringing.

Negative Influence of Internet and Social Media

Despite the positive contributions of social media and the internet to the upbringing of old adolescents, there have been negative aspects. A research study carried by (Best, Manktelow, & Taylor,2014) to investigate the impact of online communication on adolescents’ wellbeing, concluded that social media has both positive and negative effects with neither outweighing the other.

Internet and media have been shown to have an influence on what adolescents do and believe mainly brought about through imitation. The use of violence and aggressive tendencies in video games and television programs has been implicated in aggressive behaviors in adolescents. Other documented negative effects of social media and the internet on adolescents include substance abuse and eating dis s (Soo-Kim, 2016) . Though social media and the internet have been regarded as self-esteem boosters, they have been implicated in negative self-perception. Adolescents are exposed to images and social media presence of individuals with a life of perfection. This could lead to a feeling of hopelessness to adolescents who may not understand that the lifestyles depicted are fake and exaggerated. Young adolescents girls have been bombarded with social media lifestyles of girls with perfect complexions leading to feelings of insecurity and lack of self-worthiness.


Best, P., Manktelow, R., & Taylor, B. (2014). ‘Online communication, social networking and adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review’. Children and Youth Services Review, 27-36. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-19187-004

Soo-Kim, H. H. (2016). The impact of online social networking on adolescent psychological wellbeing (WB): a population-level analysis of Korean school-aged children. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 364-376. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673843.2016.1197135

Victor, A. M. (2017). The Psychological Impact of Media on Adolescents. Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 70-75. Retrieved from https://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jnhs/papers/vol6-issue1/Version-7/K0601077075.pdf






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