Self-Concept Development through Media

Adolescents in both urban and rural areas increasingly desire access to a variety of social media. Social media allows teenagers to express their emotions and share numerous activities easily. Adolescents in rural areas utilize social media differently than those in metropolitan ones. Adolescents' social adjustment and self-concept can be affected by their use of social media.

Role of Media in Adolescent's Concept Formation

Adolescent social media usage requires awareness. Adolescents develop their identities and positive self-images through the use of social media. They post about their accomplishments, demonstrate their intelligence, pleasure, and interests in hobbies and other activities, and disclose personal issues. According to research, senior high school students positive self-image positively correlates with how intensely they use social networking sites like Instagram. Self-concept includes self-image, self-identity, roles, self-esteem, and self-ideal. An individual's appraisal, judgment, or self-assessment is known as their self-concept.

The self-concept is extremely important, especially in early adolescence when teenagers are turning to crises to find their adult selves. Teenagers will learn about what, who, and what they will become during this time from the closest members of their community. Adolescence has the developmental job of adapting to their larger social context in terms of self-concept. In everyday life, this process of adjustment involves social contact. The most challenging developmental task for adolescents is social adjustment.

Personal Identity

The use of Facebook among college and high school students in Western cultures has been the subject of research that has demonstrated that online and offline identities are not mutually exclusive but rather dynamically entwined. Young people project their offline identities onto digital displays, according to experimental studies, particularly when using social networking sites where interactions are rooted in offline relationships.

According to qualitative and mixed-methods studies, social networking platforms encourage the self-conscious creation of groomed, hoped-for, or planned identities. However, in virtual settings' absence of physical cues, public feedback on self-presentations authorizes and confirms identity claims. These peer-based online identity constructs affect teenagers' self-esteem, highlighting the connection between online and offline identities.

Gender and Sexual Identity

The development of gender and sexual identities transcends online and offline boundaries. Photos and other multimedia youth broadcasts that frequently use commercial media strategies for portraying socially desirable forms of femininity, masculinity, and sex appeal serve as evidence of the widespread desire to reproduce the self as physically alluring to audiences of friends on social networking sites. Social networking platforms provide young people more freedom to express themselves physically; they may think about and alter how they seem by choosing particular backdrops, stances, camera angles, or positions relative to others.

Youth can use social media to socially build meanings for gender and sexuality with their peers that challenge established norms. Teenagers' bodies are projected increasingly as digital phenomena as they express their sexuality online, to be consumed alongside other professionally created entertainment and advertising. Girls who use Facebook typically exhibit evidence of self-objectification, which is when a person experiences their body not for what it does or feels like but rather for how it seems to others.

Social Identity

By proving the value of social networking sites for gathering social resources, bridging social capital has acquired the greatest support within social identity. Bridging social capital, which is defined as having practical connections with useful resources and knowledge from big social webs and connecting with broad and fairly different communities, is strongly related to active Facebook users. Accessing networked public posts quickly and easily encourages a sense of community and connection to larger communities outside regular face-to-face social groupings. Participating in these websites can foster a sense of belonging to certain social groupings, such as ethnic groups.

For instance, Facebook encourages participation in racial discourses with various people, giving young people from ethnic minorities a chance to develop their ethnic identities. Youth may also use Facebook's facilities to construct a profile that enhances their ethnic identity.

Formation of Positive Self-Concept through Media

There are several ways that the media can promote the formation of a positive self-concept −

  • Providing a Variety of Images − Seeing pictures of successful, confident people who are similar to them can make them feel better about their potential and ability.

  • Stressing Personal Development and Advancement − Observing pictures or reading accounts of people who have overcome obstacles and advanced in their life can encourage and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

  • Supporting Healthy Actions and Habits − Seeing examples of or knowledge about good behaviors and habits may compel individuals to take up these practices for themselves, which may enhance their perception of their abilities.

  • Providing Good Role Models − Seeing pictures or hearing stories about inspiring and upbeat people can act as role models for others and foster in them a positive self-concept.

Social Comparison Theory

According to the social comparison theory, people build their self-concept by evaluating how they compare to others. The media is one of many channels via which this process can take place. People may compare their skills, attitudes, and appearance to others when they see photographs or information about them in the media. According to the social comparison hypothesis, people frequently compare themselves to people who are similar to themselves in order to evaluate their skills and traits in a more relevant and accurate way. For instance, if a person has a specific pastime, they can compare themselves to others who share that passion rather than others who do not.

However, the media may also portray false or idealized pictures of others, which may cause viewers to judge their own needs against those of others and feel deficient or inferior. This can be especially detrimental if the media promotes unattainable or exceedingly demanding narrow and unreasonable criteria for success. In general, the social comparison theory contends that media can have a significant impact on the formation of one's self-concept. However, people must be conscious of the dangers of holding themselves to be inflated or exaggerated standards. Instead of negatively comparing oneself to others, it can be beneficial to concentrate on personal development and advancement.

Symbolic Interaction Theory

Symbolic Interaction Theory can be used to understand self-concept. It is an approach to contemplating the mind, oneself, and society. George Herbert Mead defined symbolic interaction as a human connection that generates meaning through verbal and nonverbal communication. We inadvertently lend meaning to the words or deeds that still exist through the acts and reactions of other people. The meaning of inhuman behavior, one's self-concept, and the interaction between people and society are essential concepts in theory. Mead claims that there are three key ideas in this theory,

  • According to the symbolic interaction theory, society consists of member behaviors that cooperate. According to Mead, the presence of symbols acts as a kind of bodily signal that manifests or forms society. We will empathize with them and assume their responsibilities since humans can pronounce symbols, act, and respond to what is produced.

  • According to the symbolic interactions theory's idea of self, people engage with one another to generate particular ideas about their selves. The theory sheds light on who we are and how our experiences affect others around us.

  • According to this view, the self comprises many three-dimensional components. The first dimension is the display dimension, which determines whether a person can view their self-aspect publicly or privately. The second dimension is realization or source, which refers to the degree to which a specific aspect or area of "self" is thought to originate either from within the people themselves or from the outside world. Individually realized refers to a self-element that is considered to emerge from within, whereas collectively realized refers to a self-element that is believed to arise from a person's relationships with others. The third dimension is an agent, which refers to the quantity or intensity of active power the self produces. Individuals' acts constitute the active elements, while their inaction constitutes the passive elements.


It is significant to highlight that the media frequently portrays idealized or inaccurate pictures of others, which can result in skewed or harmful comparisons. It may be beneficial for people to be aware of this and concentrate on their development and advancement rather than negatively comparing themselves to others. Thanks to social media, developing an identity is faced with fresh chances and obstacles.

Determining the steps necessary to establish a consistent, reliable, and valued sense of self in a digital culture that allows for growing personal agency and self-expression as well as easy access to massive social networks is one approach to frame talks on identity development with social media. An emphasis on tasks steers researchers from framing studies in terms of either doomsday scenarios or unduly pessimistic predictions about how communication technology will affect human development.

Updated on: 02-May-2023


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