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03-11-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 2/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2/2016

Online Self-Presentation on Facebook and Self Development During the College Transition

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 2/2016
Chia-chen Yang, B. Bradford Brown


Self-presentation, a central element of young people’s identity development, now extends from face-to-face contexts to social networking sites. Online self-presentation may change when youth transition to college, faced with the need to reclaim or redefine themselves in the new environment. Drawing on theories of self-presentation and self development, this study explores changes in youth’s online self-presentation during their transition to a residential college. It also examines associations between online self-presentation and students’ self-esteem and self-concept clarity. We surveyed 218 college freshmen (M age = 18.07; 64 % female, 79 % White) at the beginning and again at the end of their first semester. Freshmen’s Facebook self-presentation became less restricted later in the semester. Broad, deep, positive, and authentic Facebook self-presentation was positively associated with perceived support from the audience, which contributed to higher self-esteem contemporaneously, though not longitudinally. Intentional Facebook self-presentation engaged students in self-reflection, which was related to lower self-concept clarity concurrently but higher self-esteem longitudinally. Findings clarified the paths from multifaceted online self-presentation to self development via interpersonal and intrapersonal processes during college transition.

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