Impact of Social Media on Female Adolescents’ Self-Esteem

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The impact of social media on female adolescents’ self-esteem


Background of Problem

 Social media sites are commonly used networking sites by persons. Adolescents in today’s generation currently live in a media-saturated environment in which they do not only utilize it for entertainment but to keep in touch with peers on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp (Crone, 2018). According to Kircaburun (2016) social media are commonly used platforms to communicate and interact with other persons. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are commonly used by adolescents and young adults (Davis & Weinstein, 2017). Adolescents especially use these sites to engage in self-expression such as uploading selfies and updating statuses in order to receive feedback and evaluation from peers and others (Davis & Weinstein, 2017). They are one of the most intrigued populations that use social media sites (Allen et al., 2014). Adolescents are able to access networking sites easier and faster with the advancement of technology devices. As social media use is on the rise, adolescents are using these sites to gain a sense of belonging. For young persons, the use of social media is where they look to establish and maintain positive self-images (Allen, Gran & Ryan, 2014) and look for feedback to establish a healthy self-esteem (Valkenburg, et al., 2006).

Problem Statement

 Although past studies have examined the influence of social media on adolescents’ well-being, psychosocial development and self-esteem, reactions that adolescents receive on their profiles on social media accounts can hamper their development when they receive negative reactions from peers and others. According to Valkenburg, Peter and Schouten (2006) “peer acceptance and interpersonal feedback on the self are important features of friend networking sites”. Though social media use is seen in both genders and spends most of their leisure time on networking sites, females are often seen to be using social media in posting selfies and are more interested in posting personal information about themselves on social media (Herring & Kapidzic, 2015).

Justification of study

 The reasons for conducting this study is to examine the impact of social media use in female adolescents’ self-esteem development and according to Lenhart (2015) ninety-two percent of teenagers go online daily and females tend to use more social media sites. Self-esteem is seen to be linked with how well adolescents develop a sense of how they value their selves. Social media sites are seen as platforms where adolescents are using social media to express themselves in order to receive positive feedback on the self. From Elkind’s theory adolescent ego-centrism, adolescents have an interest of the self and believe that others are often judging them (Elkind, 1985 as cited in Heiken, 2012). They operate as though they are being viewed by an ‘imaginary audience’ Heiken, 2012). This study will look to understand how social media use contributes to part of female adolescents’ development. The use of selfies by adolescents

Objectives of study

  • To see how positive feedback from social media can impact female adolescents’ self-esteem.
  • To also identify if there is a particular age group in which self-esteem development occurs in adolescence.


  • The more positive feedback female adolescents’ receive on their posts, the higher their self-esteem would be.
  • Self-esteem would be affected by social media in early adolescence in females.

Literature Review

Social Media Use

 According to Jan, Soomro and Ahmad (2017) Facebook is a very popular social media site that is used to fulfill one’s needs.  Bryant (2018) stated that media use in adolescence is a common phenomenon in which individuals use social media to stay in touch with friends, make plans, and get to know other persons and being able to present their selves through social media. Lenhart et al., 2011) eighty percent of teenagers in the United States have profiles on various social media sites than compared to persons who were thirty years and older. According to Woods and Scott (2016) Adolescents are also seen to use social media a lot at night when they are unable to sleep. A study done by Kaiser Family Foundation found that individuals between eleven to eighteen years old spend an hour and a half on a computer and twenty seven minutes on average visiting social media sites (Rideout, Foehr & Roberts, 2010). There are seen to be both positive and negative uses of social media.

 Through the use of social media, self-representation plays an essential role. Social media sites enable persons to create profiles to freely post pictures and share personal information and other multimedia links with peers and other unknown followers (Herring and Kapidzck, 2015). Gender differences also played a role in how they may use internet and social media sites. Females have been seen to spend more time on social media and use them more often than most males. Barker (2009) reported that females tend to spend more time than their male peers on social media sites. They found that females used social media to talk with peers, leisure activity and to entertain while males used it for social compensation (Barker, 2009). They also vary in what kind of content they post especially on Facebook. Girls were more likely to post pictures onto their social media accounts and boys used it for sharing videos (Herring & Kapidzic, 2015). Now that social media sites are more open, it allows teenagers and young persons to be able to upload photographs on their profiles and females have been seen to be more serious with the types of pictures they select for their profiles on social media (Salimkhan et al., 2010; Mango et al., 2008). Kramer and Winter (2008) reported that utilization of social media is a prevalent method to communicate one’s personality.

Adolescent Ego Centrism and the use of Selfies

 Based on Piaget’s theory, as adolescents move from concrete operational stage, they enter the process of formal operational thought in which they begin to have a complex imagination and develop a hypothetical approach to problem-solving (Galanaki, 2017).  Adolescents are concerned with ideals and forming theories about the self and the world and being to construct a life plan. During this stage, cognitive egocentrism takes place in which they look to alter the environment to their ego. Adolescents fail to distinguish their own thoughts about themselves and how others may feel about them (Galanaki, 2017). Based off of Piaget’s idea of ego-centrism, Elkind distinguished further into the idea of adolescent ego-centrism in which because of an interest of the self, they believe that others are often judging them (Elkind, 1985 as cited in Heiken, 2012). They operate as though they are being viewed by an ‘imaginary audience’ (Heiken, 2012).

 According to Galanki (2017) adolescents believe that others are focused on their appearance and behavior just as them. This therefore causes a disturbance for self-image that is displayed through concerns of personal appearance (Heiken, 2012). Elkind posited two ideas of adolescent ego-centrism which is the imaginary audience and personal fable. Imaginary audience is the belief that the individual is at the center of focus of others’ attention in which they admire or are critical of them (Galanaki, 2017). Adolescents will become self-centered and display an increase in narcissism and therefore can lead to a belief in a personal fable which comes from their feelings of being special or unique (Santrock, 2008, as cited in Heiken, 2012). From Piagetian theory, it is seen that ego centrism takes place in early adolescence which is about eleven to twelve years old, goes up in middle adolescence (fourteen to fifteen years old) and diminishes during the end of adolescence (Galanki, 2017).

 Therefore according to (Heiken, 2012) the way how adolescents look at others’ opinion of themselves can affect their self-esteem. Adolescents would look to place more value on their peers’ opinions of them (Heiken, 2012). Valkenburg, Peter and Schouten (2006) emphasized that because adolescents take part in what is known as ‘imaginative audience behavior’ in which they see others to be viewing and evaluating them, they become focused in how they appear in front of others. With the use of social media sites, interpersonal feedback can be given through social media and therefore these types of public evaluations can affect adolescents’ self-esteem (Valkenburg, Peter and Schouten, 2006). Adolescent ego-centrism may turn towards the physical self that looks at critiquing physical appearance (Gattari, 2013).

 Therefore because adolescent ego centrism is where imaginative audience behavior occurs, in the modern world, the use of selfies by young individuals are growing in which trying to achieve the ‘perfect selfie’ can bring about insecurities and high self-consciousness and having an absence of positive feedback may affect the individual’s confidence (Barry, Doucette, Loflin, Rivera- Hudson and Herrington, 2015). As the adolescent is concerned with others evaluating and judging them, they can become self-absorbed in posting the selfie that they take time to edit photos of themselves on media sites and choose profile pictures that highlights their physical appearance or even personality (Kapidzic, 2013, as cited in Barry et al., 2015). According to (Elkind and Bowen, 1979; Goossens, 1984, study 2; Goossens et al., 1992; Gray and Hudson, 1984; Hauck et al., 1986; Hudson and Gray, 1986; Markstrom and Mullis, 1986; Montgomery, 2005; Pesce and Harding, 1986; Richter et al., 1982; Riley et al., 1984; Ryan and Kuczkowski, 1994; Rycek et al., 1998, as cited in Galanki, 2012) from studies conducted, females have been seen to display more imaginary audience ideation than their male peers. When it comes to posting selfies, females are generally seen to be more concerned in which they place more emphasis in emotional expressions when posting pictures (Zheng et al., 2016, as cited in Kramer et al., 2016). Females are also seen to take more selfies and are twice as likely to post more selfies on social media (Dhir et al., 2016, as cited in Kramer et al., 2016).  

Self-Esteem and Social Media Use among Female Adolescents

 Self-esteem is the assessment of a person’s value which can either be displayed in a positive or negative orientation towards them (Minev et al., 2018).It is seen as a factor of the self-concept that Rosenberg described as totality of individual thoughts and feelings in which the individual may see their self as an object (Minev et al., 2018).  It was seen that Facebook played a positive role in the development of positive well-being in adolescents (Schwartz, 2012). It has been seen from previous studies that negative feedback from social media sites can hamper adolescents’ well-being and development (Schwartz, 2012). According to Heiken (2006) self-esteem in the period of adolescence is popular mostly amongst girls as they are seen to be more at a risk for developing a low self-esteem. Self-Portraits or selfies are commonly taken by adolescents and are posted on social media sites for acceptance. Feedback that adolescents receive on these selfies from peers is somewhat internalized in the individual and contributes to their development when they look to post pictures again (Allen, 2015). From the study done by Allen (2015) it was found that from using social media, adolescents experienced dual identities, insecurity and freedom of expression.  According to a study done by (Alblooshi, 2015) persons with low self-esteem tend to take less selfies, while persons with higher self-esteem took more. According to Menza (2015) persons with high self-esteem post selfies on various sites as a way to express their selves and share their emotions. According to Valkenburg, Koutamanis and Vossen (2006) social media use and self-esteem could be explained through the amount of positive or negative feedback that persons received from social media. However, according to Jan, Soomro and Ahmad (2017) increase in social media use can cause self-esteem to decrease in persons.

 A study done by Wilcox and Stephen (2013) focused on experiments that looked at the effects that social networking sites had on persons’ behavior.  They were divided into four groups which were Facebook, no Facebook, weak and strong ties. From this they found that having strong ties on Facebook can increase one’s self-esteem. According to another study done by Gallagher (2017) looked at how teenagers used social media and found that those who had received more positive feedback such as having more ‘likes’ on their post had a higher self-esteem than compared to those with low-self-esteem. Andreassan et al., (2016) did a national survey and found that persons who use social media excessively found that there was a correlation between the use of social media, narcissism and self-esteem. According to Barry et al., (2015) social media can heighten self-esteem as persons have the choice to select how they want to display themselves and may receive positive social feedback.


 This study would follow a quantitative approach in which a longitudinal study would be conducted. Female participants between the ages of twelve to eighteen years old would be targeted. The type of sampling to be used would be simple random sampling 

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale- is a 10item questionnaire that rates on a 4 point likert scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’

Data analysis: Regression analysis would produce a regression equation. Having a P value of less than 0.05 indicates a statistical significance.

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Impact of Social Media on Female Adolescents’ Self-Esteem. (2019, Dec 18). Retrieved April 16, 2024 , from

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