Commentary

Kids Who Use Social Media Want To Be Famous

Kids who use social media tend to be more interested in becoming famous than peers who don’t use social media, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center, first reported in USA Today

The study, based on an online survey of children ages 9-15 (conducted with parental consent) found that roughly half of the respondents use social networks, including 23% of those under age 13. Meanwhile, 33% of all respondents said that being famous is important. Respondents who said being famous is important were more likely to participate in social media, and to do so more often: among the group which said being famous is “very important,” 54% also said they post photos frequently, while 46% are frequent status-updaters, and 38% frequently update their profiles.

Social media is clearly tied up with self-esteem. In March I wrote about a study which found that Facebook bolsters feelings of confidence and self-worth. The study examined how college students responded to negative criticism of their performance in a test (involving public speaking) after viewing either their own Facebook profile or a stranger’s Facebook profile. The researchers found that subjects who viewed their own Facebook profile before taking the test were more likely to be receptive to criticism and less likely to try to blame someone else for their supposedly poor performance. In a second test, the researchers gave subjects either neutral or negative feedback regarding their public speaking, then allowed them to choose from one of five online activities. Subjects who received neutral evaluations were equally likely to choose any of the four other online activities as visit Facebook -- while 60% of subjects who received negative evaluations chose to visit their Facebook page. 

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By the same token, in January I wrote about a study conducted by researchers at two German universities, which found that Facebook use could produce harmful psychological effects including feelings of envy, resentment, low-self esteem, loneliness, frustration and anger. And in October of last year I wrote about a study by professors at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, who found that using Facebook increases our feelings of self-confidence, but decreases our capacity for self-control… which kind of sounds like a recipe for fame-seeking behavior.

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