Timeline posts, direct messages and retweets on Facebook and Twitter are directly shaping the social development of today's teens -- giving them a sense of belonging and identity.
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That's according to Katie Davis, an assistant professor at the University of Washington's Information School. After interviewing 32 adolescents -- 15 girls and 17 boys who ranged from 13 to 18 years of age -- Davis believes "computer-mediated communication" helps teens achieve developmental milestones.
Davis' findings appear in the November issue of Journal of Adolesence.
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“What they’re doing is different from generations of teenagers from before the digital era, but it comes from the same place of basic developmental needs. It’s just that they’re using different tools to satisfy these needs,” Davis said. She has also conducted a survey of 2,079 teenagers in the past, which showed similar results.
Teenagers, who described themselves as shy or quiet, said it's easier to talk about their feelings and problems behind a screen. This type of peer-to-peer interaction is happening constantly on cell phones, Facebook, online instant messaging clients, YouTube and Twitter, according to the study's author.
But it wasn't all good news. When teens are able to reach out to their friends anywhere at anytime, the author believes this raises the question of whether adolescents can develop an "autonomous sense of self" while relying heavily on their online networks for self-confirmation.
Do you worry about your teen's interactions on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube? Tell us in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Graham Blackall
This story originally published on Mashable here.