Post Mortem

Social media and conflicting self among adolescents

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/2/2019 11:49:58 AM IST

 Understanding of self-concept among the adolescents is illusory in terms of their interaction with social media. Data collectedfrom 2016-2019 through a paper-based interviewof 406 school students in Kohima aged 14-19 years and case studiesshow social media causes a conflict in their understanding of self. 70 percent of adolescents mention that engaging in social media enables them to be more aware of their self, and so they feel self-assured. Nonetheless, 43 percent conflict themselves by admitting that social media negatively impacts their self-concept.The following observations are some of the reasons for this conflicting self:

1. Fake ID Users

Adolescents struggle to find their identity and social media serves as a means to hide their true identity behind a fake social media ID. The research shows 30 percent of the adolescents use fake social media ID. Reasons closely connected to fake ID use are low economic income and parents’ educational qualifications. 72 percent of adolescents whose parents’ income is₹10,000 and below per month use fake ID as compared to 10 percent whose parents’ monthly income is ₹50,000 and above. Similarly, 67 percent of adolescents whose parents’educational qualification is under graduate use fake ID as compared to31 percent whose parents’ educational qualification is Graduate and above. Parents’ economic and education standing determines their self-worth. They fail to see it as equal no matter whatever the background they come from. Rather than challenging a person towards positive value, social media becomes a tool to disguise the real self.

2. Attention Seeking

The self-concept of adolescents active on social media is influenced by others. 81 percent agree that they feel good getting attention from social media post. More ‘Likes’ and positive ‘Comments’ seem to enhance their self-concept. Nonetheless, such vibe is flimsy. 72 percentsaid the happiness derived from social media is not lasting. Some stated that they get jealous of their friends when they see them getting more likes and comments than them. Social media becomes a platform for the adolescents to get attention. It can leada person to want for more, thereby forming a possible narcissistic personality.

3. Poor Performance in Studies

Success and failure for adolescents is measured largelybytheir academic performance, which in turn affects their self-concept. 94 percent of the 406 adolescents agree that social media distracts the study time. Case studies substantiate the paper-based findings that excessive engagement in social media makes them lazy, irresponsible and a drop is seen in their daily performances. This decline in functioning includes a descend in their studies. Some students who have been doing well in studies prior to engaging in social media even flunked.  Some were also forced to give up their childhood dreams. 

4. Behavioral Influences

Case studies showthat the negative comments, rumors and gossips in social media influence their attitude and behaviors. On a more serious note, it allures them to watch “Bad Photos” as some respondents put it. Some get invited by their online friends whom they had never met in person to sexual indulgences, partying and smoking. Some were invited through social media to join satanic worship. There are some cases where strangers who follow their social media page would send nude pictures. Such comments and viewing distorts their self-concept.


Most adolescents active on social media suffer from conflicting self-concept.How a social media user understands oneself may be very different from what the person really is. The impact of social media on the self-concept of the adolescents may be slow and subtle. It may not completely damage a person in a rapid span of time. However, findings from the case studies,paper-based survey and counselling adolescents who engageexcessively in social media clearly indicate self-concept being altered, and before long it has severe effects on the person. 

Symptoms of adolescents self-concept being adversely affected includes feelings of loneliness, depressive mood,deep longing for personal touch and connection, jittery behavior, signs ofBi-polar Personality Syndrome,erratic time schedule, abandon healthy eating habits,use of foul languages, manifestation of unacceptable behaviours and attitudes, withdrawal from in-person social interaction, no social-skills,decline in academic performance,possessiveness and attention-seeking, self-doubt and low self-esteem. Recognizing such symptoms at an early stage and seeking help willenable a healthy growth in a person. 

(The writer is a Co-founder and Counsellor at Centre for Integrated Counselling Services (CICS) Kohima, School Counsellor at Little Flower Higher Secondary School Kohima.For details

Kariuganhliu Kamei Koza

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