Social networking sites provide a means for adolescents to maintain existing friendships and make new friendships, explore their identity, learn and share their opinions, and be creative – all of which are normal aspects of healthy adolescent development (Mitchell & Ybarra, 2009). The use of Facebook was found for example, to be positively associated with students' life satisfaction, their social trust, and political participation (Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009). Similarly, adolescents’ use of friend networking has also been found to impact on their well-being, social support and self-esteem.

Heirman & Walrave (2008) suggest the benefits of social media for young people include:
  • increasing students’ social interactions and collaborative learning experiences through instant communication to broad audiences;
  • some students having greater confidence interacting online because of the anonymous and non face-to-face nature of this environment reducing social isolation;
  • the 24/7 nature of online communication allowing students to access their social networks wherever and whenever they wish;
  • the anonymity in the online environment allowing an adolescent to ask for advice on a delicate issue they wouldn’t otherwise discuss.
It is therefore important to recognise that social media can have beneficial outcomes for young people when it is used in a pro-social, positive way.

Relevant Reading