Everywhere you look, people are putting their lives on display for friends and followers through social media. But do these abundant social updates mean that we are becoming narcissists? Dr. Christopher Barry, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi is studying how teens are impacted by the use of social media.
Does Social Media Affect Teens’ Self Esteem?
LAYLA ESSARY, Reporter, USM: While activity on social media websites is at an all-time high, the attraction for teens can present particular challenges says associate professor of psychology, Dr. Christopher Barry, especially when adolescents with an inflated self-view encounter criticism.
DR. CHRISTOPHER BARRY: For those with more narcissistic tendencies, they don’t deal with it in the most adaptive way, so that sort of gets our attention and gets us to wonder what we can do to sort of channel their reactions to other people in more positive or at least more adaptive kinds of ways.
ESSARY: For years, Dr. Christopher Barry and a team of researchers have studied narcissism in teens. While more research needs to be done, observers are sure that for teens, social media is providing an explosive platform for fragile egos, in part because of the immediacy of these forums.
DR. BARRY: They’re not stopping and necessarily using good judgment, probably applies to adults too, but they’re not stopping and using good judgment or sort of thinking about the broader ramifications of what they communicate or what they display because it’s such, it’s so fast and so available, it really can be done in literally a touch of a button.
ESSARY: And now Dr. Barry’s research team has launched a new research project that looks at how people react to others’ displays on social media.
DR. BARRY: We’re really in the initial phases of designing a study that looks at how people perceive status updates and postings that are sort of narcissistic. Does this person seem like they would be a good friend to you, does this person seem likeable, so that’s sort of the angle that we’re about to take in some of our research.
ESSARY: Dr. Barry says both research projects will develop action steps to limit antisocial behavior sparked by the use of social media and other teen interactions. From the University of Southern Mississippi, I’m Layla Essary.
When adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Drew Pate counsels patients or speaks to parenting groups, questions about social media use inevitably arise.