Though parents often have concerns about letting their teens use social media Web sites like Facebook and MySpace, a new study by University of Virginia psychologists suggests that well-adapted youth with positive friendships will use these sites to further enhance the positive relationships they already have.
they warn, teens who have behavioral problems and difficulty making
friends, or who are depressed, may be more inclined to use social media
in negative and sometimes aggressive ways, or not to use such sites at
The study appears in the January issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.
finding that the interactions young adults are having on their Facebook
and MySpace pages are more similar to than different from the
interactions they have in their face-to-face relationships," said U.Va.
psychology professor Amori Yee Mikami, the study's lead author. "So
parents of well-adjusted teens may have little to worry about regarding
the way their children behave when using social media. It's likely to
be similar positive behavior."
However, Mikami warns, teens with behavioral problems or who have difficulty maintaining positive friendships may be more likely to use social media sites in negative ways, just as they may behave negatively in their face-to-face relationships. Negative use of the sites would include using excessive profanity, making hostile remarks or aggressive gestures, or posting nude photographs of themselves or others. They also have fewer supportive relationships with their Facebook and MySpace friends. But this group also is less inclined to use social media at all.