Investigation about Social Media Usage and Identity Orientation for High School Students in South Lebanon
Investigation about Social Media Usage and Identity Orientation for High School Students in South Lebanon
تحقيق حول استخدام وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي وتشكّل الهوية لدى طلاب المرحلة الثانوية في جنوب لبنان
Identity formation has been a critical issue for a lot of people including social study scientists, teachers, educators, parents and most importantly those who are in the process of creating their own identities, teenagers. As a matter of fact, identity formation starts in early childhood as the child takes his own parents as their role model who know and perfectly do everything, but the major process starts when these children reach the teenage years as they will pass through different experiences in various contexts. In addition, the society plays the lion’s share in the formation of their identities. Nowadays the society is unclosed for teenagers. It can’t be specified by their living environment, social media made an open society with limited barriers for teenagers. That’s why a study is held to examine the social media used by teenagers and the factors that contribute to identity formation of teenagers in the south of Lebanon. Forty four students of age 15-16 years old are subjected to a qualitative approach that aimed to investigate social media usage and identity orientation. The results show that variable types of social media are used with indefinite purpose mostly for entertainment, the vast majority 79.50% of the taken sample can’t live without social media, and the essentiality of personality and feeling belonging to a group or society was ranked to be the last identity by the adolescent. Many factors seem to be affecting identity orientations more samples and more investigations should be done.
Key words: Social Media – Identity Orientation – Social Identity – Personal Identity – Collective Identity.
تكوين الهوية قضية مهمة لكثير من الناس بما في ذلك علماء الدراسات الاجتماعية والمعلمون وأولياء الأمور. وهي قضية مهمّة بالنسبة إلى المراهقين إذ يقومون بعملية إنشاء هوياتهم الخاصة. في الواقع، يبدأ تكوين الهوية في مرحلة الطفولة المبكرة حيث يتخذ الطفل من والديه قدوة له، فهم يعرفون كل شيء ويفعلونه على أكمل وجه، ولكن العملية الكبرى تبدأ عندما يصل هؤلاء الأطفال إلى سنوات المراهقة حيث يمرون بتجارب مختلفة في حياتهم. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، المجتمع والبيئة المحيطة يلعبان الدور الأهم في تشكيل هوياتهم. في أيامنا هذه، أصبح المجتمع مفتوحًا أمام المراهقين، ولا يمكن تحديده؛ فوسائل التواصل الاجتماعي تخلق مجتمعًا مفتوحًا من دون حواجز محددة. ولهذا السبب، تم إجراء دراسة للتحقق من وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي التي يستخدمها المراهقون والعوامل التي تساهم في تكوين هويتهم في جنوب لبنان.خضع أربعة وأربعون طالبًا تتراوح أعمارهم بين 15 و16 عامًا لإستبيانين يهدفان إلى التحقق من استخدام وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي وتشكل الهوية. أظهرت النتائج أن أنواعًا مختلفة من وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي تستخدم لأغراض غير محددة معظمها للترفيه، والأغلبية العظمى 79.50% من العينة المأخوذة لا تستطيع العيش بدون وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. وبعد التحقق من تشكّل الهوية وترتيب أولوياتهم تبيّن أن الشعور بالانتماء إلى مجموعة أو المجتمع هي الهوية الأخيرة. يبدو أن العديد من العوامل تؤثر على تشكّل الهوية، وينبغي أخذ المزيد من العينات والمزيد من التحقيقات لتحديدها.
الكلمات المفتاحية: وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي – تشكّل الهوية – الهوية الشخصية – الهوية الإجتماعية – الهوية الجماعية.
*زينة وردة Zeina Warde
ماجستير بحثي بالأدب الانكليزي ومدرّسة للغة الانكليزية في ثانوية السفير – الغازية.
Masters Degree in English Literature. Teacher in Safir High School- Ghazieh.
* *آمنة علوش Amena Allouch
ماجستير في علم الأعصاب وماجستير إدارة تربوية مجازة في الكيمياء الحياتية – منسقة ومدرسة لمادة الكيمياء – مسؤولة مركز الأبحاث العلمية في ثانوية السفير – الغازية.
Master Neuroscience and Bioinformatics, Master Educational Management and License Biochemistry. Coordinator and teacher for chemistry subject in Safir High School, principle of research center in Safir High School, Ghaziyeh . Amena.firstname.lastname@example.org
.***أمل تقي Amal Taki
. جدارة في علم الاجتماع (فرع الخدمة الاجتماعية والتنمية المحلية)، إجازة في علم الاجتماع – منسقّة ومدرّسة لمادة علم الاجتماع في ثانوية السفير- الغازية.
Maîtrise in Social service and local development, License Sociology, Coordinator and teacher for Sociology subject in Safir High School-Ghaziyeh. email@example.com
Identity formation has been a critical issue for a lot of people including social study scientists, teachers, educators, parents and most importantly those who are in the process of creating their own identities, teenagers. As a matter of fact, identity formation starts in early childhood as the child takes his own parents as his role model who knows and perfectly does, but the major process starts when these children reach the teenage years as they will pass through different experiences in various contexts. In addition, the society plays the lion’s share in the formation of their identities.
No one passes through life without having peculiar characteristics, ideals, and specific commitments and challenges that distinguish his personality and determine his identity. In addition, many social scientists affirmed the fact that teenage years is a period of time when teenagers labor to form their identities. This period of time is dominated by different feelings of challenge, anxiety and lack of stability that are caused by the shift in their cognitive abilities, social status and physical appearance (Brinthaup and Lipka, 2002 and Erikson 1968). That’s why identity orientation has been the center of focus of many studies by many researchers, psychologists and scholars. To start, researchers emphasized on the fact that adolescents may possess many types of identities: Personal Identity, Social Identity and Collective Identity.
In their investigations about identity formation and development, most researchers depend on the developmental psychologist James Marcia Identity Status Paradigm (1966). Marcia’s model can encapsulate the variations that take place during the identity formation process especially that adolescents differ as a result of their personal experiences, daily events, family and peer relations, gender, cultural and social background. All of which play a role in the formation of the adolescent’s personality formation.
According to Marcia (1966), during adolescence, teenagers develop an identity that is “a unique self-constructed entity” (as quoted from N. Kaddoura and Sarouphim, K. M., 2019). Marcia depicted this self-constructed entity as an inner self-structure “that reveals the individual’s ideals, opinions, capabilities and personal history in several field of life as career, education and relations”. This structure is depicted as having two dimensions through which the adolescents must go through two phases which are the exploration and commitments. Marcia (1980) went further to determine four types/ stages of identity development through which exploration and commitment determine the location of the adolescent regarding identity achievement. These four stages are achieved identity, the diffused identity, adolescents in foreclosure and adolescents in moratorium.
Marcia (1980) provided a deep clarification of the stages of identity formation in adolescents. Those with achieved identities make deep explorations in different contexts of life and interindividual attitudes, opinions and ideals which would enable them to make solid commitments while adolescents with diffused identities may or may not get engaged with serious explorations, and as a result, won’t make commitments of any kind. Adolescents in foreclosure tend to make high commitments without adequate explorations while those in moratorium tend to explore and investigate in various context and afterwards make commitments. Many researchers (Flores-Crespo, 2007 and Sarouphim, K.M and Issa, N. 2017), nonetheless, affirmed the fact that adolescent’s identity status plays a major role in determining his attitude towards school, behavior in classroom, academic achievement and choice of vocation.
The achievement of one or more of Marcia’s paradigms determine the type of identity that adolescents achieve whether it is personal identity, social identity, collective identity or a blend of all. Susan Branje et al., (2021) define personal identity as the adolescent’s sense of self including an individualistic feeling of self-sameness and continuity persisting in span and social context while social identity refers to the individual’s self-concept that is derived from the social groups they belong to (Schwartz, S. J. et al., (2008). Hogg and Rinella (2017) consolidated the definition of social identity and provided some of its dimensions. They depicted how individuals achieving social identities do so in an attempt to have shared realities with the group members as self-categorization and depersonalization establish connectedness with the group as a result of shared reality.
To add, collective identity is achieved on two different levels. The first level is the micro level that is related to recognition and categorization the individual as belonging to a specific group having shared cognitive, emotional and behavioral setback while the second level, the macro level, is connected to the idea of shared awareness of a recognized individual of a collective (David, O., & Bar-Tal, D., 2009)
Starting with the Personal Identity construction, PI materializes when persistence of perception forms the adolescent’s PI across multiple domains in life such as education, vocation and social relationships. During teenage years, adolescents try to determine the type of education they want to receive, the career they want to carry over a period of time and the social relationships that they want in their lives. In addition, other aspects play a vital role in determining the PI of adolescents such as gender, ethnicity, religion, well-being or lack of well-being (Dunlop, W.L., 2015).
In their study, Branje, S. et al. (2021) showed that adolescents whose explorations of the educational, vocational and relational domains enabled them to achieve a stable identity across adulthood while those who were stuck in diffusion and moratorium stages during adolescents were unable to take or preserve their commitments; thus, they had to go through adolescence (ages 12-20 years) and early adulthood (ages 25-29) before they are able to achieve what is called by self-concept clarity.
Parallel to identity formation through adolescence, many social scientists contributed to the factors that enable a teenager to construct his identity. As for Meeus et al. (2010), teenagers start forming their identity when they question who they want to be and what roles they want as members of the society. Others declare that adolescents are able to shape their identities based on personal narratives that are connected from the past, moving to the present and shaping the future that makes sense with their personal autobiographical stories. In addition, Branje et al. (2021) affirmed the fact that personal identity matures slowly but systematically as a result of life experiences, transitions in addition to other outer social factors that play a major role in forming the PI such as family relations and peer influence and interactions.
Taking the aforementioned facts into the context of Lebanese adolescent’s identity formation, researchers have taken other factors that contribute to the identity formation. Sarouphim (2011) emphasized on the different challenges that encounter Lebanese adolescents in Lebanon who are obliged to deal with religious divisions, sectarianism, political dissonance in addition to the repetitive wars and displacements which jeopardized the people’s physical, mental, psychological health and left its adversity on the social fabric. Also during the hostile circumstances, the Lebanese had to deal with adverse life conditions that are characterized by lack of stability as a result of the absence of infrastructure services as electricity and water, unemployment, severe recession and even total deterioration of the economy. All of which leave their impact on the identity of adolescents in Lebanon.
Moreover, due to Lebanon’s socio-cultural and political diversity, a western influence may dominate the ideals of the Lebanese youth; nonetheless, the adopted collectivism that takes place as a result of the fact that the group is more important than the individual is consolidated by Kazarian (2005) and a group of other researchers who reaffirmed that adolescents are allowed to express their individualism, learn different languages which enable them to be open to outer cultures and lead their lives to the outside world yet ideas like conformity to their social group, loyalty, self-sacrifice and preservation of family honor are internalized as they are expected to adopt these ideas unquestionably.
In the same vein, as quoted from N. Kaddoura and K.M. Sarouphim (2019) postulated that Lebanese adolescents, as a result, suffer from conflicting religious, national and supranational identity establishments. As they are compelled to embrace foreign ideas from the western culture presented to them through social networks and mass media, and at the same time, they are compelled to preserve the ideals imposed on them by their families and social background. Taking this into consideration, the Lebanese adolescents achieve different levels of personal identity, social identity and collective identity.
Nonetheless, upon revising the different stages of personal identity, the Lebanese adolescents are found occupying different stages. The investigations held by Kaddoura and Sarouphim (2019) manifested that one-third of the adolescents were in the foreclosure position due to the fact that the social fabric and family relations impose abidance on these adolescents, so they make high commitments without further exploration about the ideals imposed on them (Kazarian, 2005 and Ayyash-Abdo et al., 2009).
The research also showed that a similar percentage (one-third of the participants) were in the Moratorium stage as they are engaged in high levels of exploration before they make any commitments (Kaddoura and Sarouphim, 2019). Two reasons were provided by Dwairy et al. 2006 who described Lebanon as “the most liberal and western-oriented Arab Country” as a result of its location in the Middle East. Another factor is the “mixed flexible pattern” in parenting which promotes individualism and autonomy while taking pride of family origin, ideals and traditions.
Not only mixed flexible pattern of parenting and Lebanon’s location do play a role in shaping teen’s identity, but also media and social networks. Media and social netweorks are present in almost any house and considered as a major resource for anybody, especially children and adolescent identity orientation. More researches are done to investigate the type of social media used and its implication on adolescent. A research, done in Italy 2022, showed that 95% of Italian families have a child with a broad band internet connection (Bozzola et al., 2022) mostly used for friends connections and social media usage (Spina G. et al., 2021). The unguided usage of social media may expose children and adolescent to several risks such as cyber bulling or stalking. These risks affect adolescent self-esteem and well-being (Gonzales A. & Hancock J. Mirror, 2010). More than that, young adolescents are more vulnerable and may display risk behavior, such as sexual behaviors, pertaining substance abuse and violence (Le Heuzey M.-F. , 2012).
The risk of social media might be connected to how much social media is used (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2022). According to Mayo Clinic 2022 a study showed that more than 6500 of 12 to 15 aged in the US found that those who used social media more than three hours per day might be at heightened risk of mental health problem. In a study done by Pew Research Center on teens and social media use, they found that TikTok is one of the top online platforms for U.S. teens (EMILY A. et al., 2022). The non-profit center for Countering Digital Hate found that it can take less than three to five minutes after signing up in TikTok to see content related to suicide and eating disorder content (Samantha Murphy Kelly, 2022). Furthermore, one of the most significant difficulties faced by adolescent is a conflict of values linked to their continuous search for identity and belonging (Bouchey H.A. & Furman W. , 2013). Most important, online interaction has increased the risk of affecting identity formation and self-understanding due to the popularity or feedback that the users are publishing online ( (Madison Ganda, 2014).
In a research published in 2021 about the negative effects of social media on the social identity of adolescent from the perspective of social media, a sample of 200 adolescents were subjected to a questionnaire based on the four main levels of James Marcia’s theory of social media, the result showed a variety of negative effects of social media on social identity in terms of achievement, postponement, closure and depression (Walaa Elsayed, 2021). Another research published in 2023 about self-esteem and social media addiction level in adolescent, they evaluated self-esteem levels, social media dependency levels and their body images for a sample of 204 adolescent, the result was a negative correlation between self-esteem and social media addiction levels in adolescent and body image has a partial mediating role in the relationship between social media addiction and self-esteem levels (Colak, M., Bingol, O. S., & Dayi, A. , 2023).
Forty four high school students (grade 10) of an average age 15 were subjected to two questionnaires. The first questionnaire was related to personal information such as: age – gender – relationship with their families – type of social media used – hours spent using social media, etc … The second questionnaire was aimed to know the scale average of adolescent identities which are Social Identity (Si) – Personal Identity (Pi) – Collective Identity (Ci).
Demographic information on participants is shown in the table and bar graphs below.
Table 1. Demographic information on participants
|16 – 17 years||12||27.2|
|Hours spent using social media||Sometimes||9||20.4|
Figure 1. Demographic information on participants
The purpose of using social media by adolescent was mostly for entertainment 54% then chat with friends 32% and finally follow news 14%.
Figure 2. Purpose of using social media
The believe that adolescents can’t live without social media was 79.50% and the remaining believe that they can live without the social media as shown in the bar graph below.
Figure 3. percentage of adolescent that can live and can’t live without social media
Identity Orientation for the high school adolescent, the total weights, weighted relative weight % , percentage and ranking for the three identity orientations and special items.
Table 2. Identity Orientations Statments and Values
|Total weights||Weighted relative weight %||percentage %||Ranking|
|Personal Identity Orientation|
|1. My personal values and moral standards||219||87.6||10.8415842||3|
|2. My dreams and imagination||220||88||10.8910891||2|
|3. My personal goals and hopes for the future||234||93.6||11.5841584||1|
|4. My emotions and feelings||183||73.2||9.05940594||8|
|5. My thoughts and ideas||209||83.6||10.3465347||5|
|6. Knowing that I continue to be essentially the same inside even though life involves many external changes||169||67.6||8.36633663||10|
|7. My self-knowledge, my ideas about what kind of person I really am||207||82.8||10.2475248||6|
|8. The ways I deal with my fears and anxieties||191||76.4||9.45544554||7|
|9. My feeling of being a unique person, being distinct from others||172||68.8||8.51485149||9|
|10. My personal self-evaluation, the private opinion I have of myself||216||86.4||10.6930693||4|
|Social Identity Orientation|
|1. My popularity with other people||144||57.6||12.2344945||5|
|2. The ways in which other people react to what I say and do||139||55.6||11.8096856||7|
|3. My physical appearance: My height,my weight, and the shape of my body||195||78||16.5675446||2|
|4. My reputation, what others think||143||57.2||12.1495327||6|
|5. My attractiveness to other people||152||60.8||12.9141886||4|
|6. My gestures and mannerisms, the impression I make on others||190||76||16.1427358||3|
|7. My social behavior, such as the way I act when meeting people||214||85.6||18.1818182||1|
|Collective Identity Orientation|
|1. Being a part of the many generations of my family||158||63.2||12.0426829||5|
|2. My race or ethnic background||145||58||11.0518293||7|
|3. My religion||208||83.2||15.8536585||1|
|4. Places where I live or where I was raised||166||66.4||12.652439||4|
|5. My feeling of belonging to my community||157||62.8||11.9664634||6|
|6. My feeling of pride in my country, being proud to be a citizen||170||68||12.9573171||3|
|7. My commitments on political issues or my political activities||108||43.2||8.23170732||8|
|8. My language, such as my regional accent or dialect or a second language that I know||200||80||15.2439024||2|
|1. The things I own, my possessions||206||82.4||12.7003699||2|
|2. My age, belonging to my age group or being part of my generation||148||59.2||9.12453761||8|
|3. My sex, being a male or female||189||75.6||11.6522811||6|
|4. My social class, the economic group I belong to, whether lower, middle, or upper class||134||53.6||8.26140567||9|
|5. My physical abilities, being coordinated and good at athletic activities||198||79.2||12.2071517||3|
|6. Being a sports fan, identifying with a sports team||149||59.6||9.18618989||7|
|7. My occupational choice and career plans||216||86.4||13.3168927||1|
|8. My academic ability and performance, such as the grades I earn and comments I get from teachers||192||76.8||11.837238||4|
|9. My role of being a student||190||76||11.7139334||5|
Adolescence is an important stage in developing identity and self, including commitments, personal goals and well-being. During adolescence, youth increase commitments to social aspects of identity and need more for peer’s connection. Social media has prevented social belonging and affected self-esteem, personal and self-development, and identity orientation due to its use without supervision for a long duration. In this research, the vast majority of adolescents show deep connection with social media and inability to live without it, knowing that they mainly used social media just for entertainment. More than that, ranking identity orientation showed the least important are the identity that are linked to group or society feeling. The role of parents and educators is to direct and watch how social media is used, for what purpose and how much time. Lots of alternative activities should be available for the adolescent to avoid using social media for long time.
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