Teenage Social Media Culture(s): About Adolescents’ Challenges and Strategies between Peer Pressure and Individuality

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Natalia WAECHTER, Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, Germany
Young people use social media, above all, for forming networks and for interconnecting with their peers. The research presented draws on transition theory and understands social media as a place where early adolescents learn how to become a teenager and how to cope with teenage life. Becoming a teenager involves developing one’s individual identity through interaction with others and thereby negotiating collective identities and peer culture(s).

The research presented (from the project “The Profiler” 2014-2016) focuses on challenges young people face when dealing with peer culture on social media and on the strategies they employ to overcome those challenges. Due to the fast-changing research field we have used the participatory concept, involving adolescents as experts already at an early stage of the project. Conducting qualitative individual and group interviews with 13 and 15 year old school students, we investigated challenges and strategies regarding privacy, hate culture and peer pressure, which have shown to be the teenagers’ main concerns.

Regarding the issue of privacy the results reveal that teenagers have to negotiate the dilemma between acquiring as many followers as possible and maintaining privacy. Regarding hate culture, they have developed different strategies such as understating and ignoring the postings, or not interfering when others get bullied. Regarding peer pressure, teenagers have to learn to overcome high expectations of achievement and perfectionism. I conclude that adolescents employ individualized strategies much based on personal experiences and on the notion of self-responsibility. On the one hand they learn how to fit into the teenage culture of social media and on the other hand, they develop individual ways to distance themselves from common practices and from collective peer culture(s).