The struggle of finding your identity in a digital era

Picture Moises Aria ; source :

While millenials’ parents still don’t understand why their kids spend hours on Snapchat using funny face filters, there is another thing they might hardly envision : the experience of teenagehood in a social-media world.

From being a naive kid to becoming a young adult might be one of the most confusing experiences we have to deal with. Whether teens are geeks or hipster wannabes they are all looking for the same thing : approval from their peers. Today, the number of « peers » is multiplying as you are following hundreds of other teens on social media, waiting for them to like, comment retweet or even just see your posts. Today’s peer approvals translates into engagement rate, and its level can be compared with the ones of your friends.

Another issue is the standard of beauty sets by social media. In the early 90s the beauty standards were expressed through magazine covers and as much as teens would want to resemble those models, actors or music artists, they knew it was not real. Whereas today you will find common teenagers who are neither celebrities nor models sharing lifestyle pictures on Instagram that create excessively high standards of beauty/fitness/health. With the birth of image editing apps, everyone can correct, edit and filter a picture therefore the Insta feed is flooded with almost magazine-like edited pictures and it has a deep influence on beauty standards.

However this lack of authenticity seems to be the triggering factor to the change of social media habits recognized amongst the teens born in the early 2000s ( often called generation Z). Rachel Arthur,a  Forbes contributor was reporting on  SXSW Interactive findings earlier this year and explained that kids born after 1995 were statistically using less Facebook and especially value more privacy. Moreover an article published on CBS news last March* referred to a study of the Center of Generational Kinetics affirming that generation Z « favors more personal, immediate social platforms like Snapchat rather than broadcasting their lives widely and publicly for all to see through the like of Facebook and Twitter ». Teens seem to be looking for authenticity after years of edited reality on social media, and this trend is well illustrated by the popularity of Snapchat a raw almost not edited app extensively used by teenagers.

This new generation seem to have learned from the mistakes of the previous generation who often overshare, the new 2000s kids are much more educated about the social media drift Facebook or Instagram have brought and therefore value privacy a lot more.

Hopefully this new generation will be able to go through  their teenage years regardless of the social media pressure. However teenagers struggle to find their identity will keep on being real.

* How generation Z is changing the tech world by Brian Mastroianni,


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