Will the “Real” Adolescent Please Sign in? Self-Socialization on the Internet

Laurel Anderson, Arizona State University
Deborah McCabe, Arizona State University

This paper examines the ubiquitous internet as a service that is a context for socialization for both younger and older adolescents. Our research finds that the internet adds dimensions to and takes away elements in the socialization process that have not been manifest in the same way in the past. The lack of the usual adult socialization agents in this service context challenges the more traditional view of adolescent socialization. Instead, our research finds a transcendent theme of self-socialization. Without the more traditional structured socialization contexts that include parents and other adult socialization agents, “self-socialization” occurs as adolescent gain even more independence and agency than has traditionally been the case and with peers are co- constructing their own environment and socialization on the internet. In particular, we see an impact on such norms as deception, privacy and “realness.” We also examine the carryover of this socialization to the offline world.

 

This paper is under review at the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.