“Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online

Special issue: Mediation of Children´s ICT Usage

This paper examines how children aged 11-16 in three European countries (Italy, UK and Spain) develop and present their online identities, and their interactions with peers. It focuses on young people’s engagement with the construction of an online identity on social media through pictures, and explores how peer-mediated conventions of self-presentation are appropriated, legitimated, or resisted in pre-teens’ and teenagers’ discourses. In doing so, we draw on Goffman’s (1959) work on the presentation of self and “impression management” to frame our analysis. Mobile communication and social network sites serve an important role in the process of self-presentation and emancipation, providing “full-time” access to peers and peer culture. Our findings suggest that there are gender differences and the presence of sexual double standards in peer normative discourses. Girls are positioned as being more subjected to peer mediation and pressure. Boys blame girls for posing sexy in photos, and negatively sanction this behaviour as being aimed at increasing one’s popularity online or as an indicator of “a certain type of girl.” However, girls who post provocative photos chose to conform to a sexualised stereotype as a means of being socially accepted by peers. Moreover, they identify with the pressure to always look “perfect” in their online pictures. While cross-national variations do exist, this sexual double standard is observed in all three countries. These insights into current behaviours could be further developed to determine policy guidance for supporting young people as they learn to manage image laden social media.

self-presentation; selfies; social network sites; young people; peer mediation
Author biographies

Giovanna Mascheroni

Author photo Giovanna Mascheroni, PhD, is a Lecturer in Sociology of Communication and Culture in the Department of Sociology at Università Cattolica of Milan and a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She was the coordinator of the Net Children Go Mobile project and has been the national contact of the EU Kids Online network since 2007. She is also part of the research project, WebPolEU: Comparing Social Media and Political Participation across EU (http://www.webpoleu.net/).

Jane Vincent

Author photo Jane Vincent, PhD, is a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She participated in the Net Children Go Mobile and EU Kids Online projects for the UK and has led studies on children and mobile phones for the University of Surrey. Her research interests focus on information communication technology user behaviours and emotions and their usage of mobile phones.

Estefanía Jimenez

Author photo Estefanía Jimenez, PhD, is a Lecturer in Media Studies at the School of Social Sciences and Communication of the University of the Basque Country. She has been a member of the EU Kids Online network since 2012 and she has also participated in the Net Children Go Mobile project as the Spanish representative. She works on Media Literacy, audience research, and usage of SNS.

Attwood, F. (2009). Mainstreaming sex: The sexualisation of Western culture. London: Taurus.

Bond, E. (2014). Childhood, mobile technologies and everyday experiences. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Bosch, T. (2011): Young women and ‘technologies of the self’: Social networking and sexualities. Agenda, 25(4), 75-86. https://doi.org/10.1080/10130950.2011.630579

boyd, d. (2007). Why youth (heart) social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, Identity and Digital Media (pp. 119-142). Cambridge: MIT Press.

boyd, d. (2014). It's Complicated: The social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press.

Brake, D. R. (2012). Who do they think they’re talking to? Framings of the audience by social media users. International Journal of Communication, 6(21). Retrieved from: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/932

Buckingham, D. (2008). Introducing identity. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, Identity and Digital Media (pp. 1-24). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Caron, A., & Caronia, L. (2007). Moving cultures. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Corsaro, W. A., & Eder, D. (1990). Children's peer cultures. Annual Review of Sociology, 16, 197-220. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.so.16.080190.001213

Gill, R. (2003). From sexual objectification to sexual subjectification: The resexualisation of women's bodies in the media. Feminist media studies, 3(1), 100-106.

Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Middlesex: Penguin.

Green, N., & Haddon, L. (2009). Mobile communications: An introduction to new media. Oxford: Berg.

Haddon, L., & Vincent, J. (2014). European children and their carers’ understanding of use, risks and safety issues relating to convergent mobile media. Milano: Educatt. Retrieved from: www.netchildrengomobile.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/NCGM_QualitativeReport_D4.pdf

Lasén, A. (2005). Understanding mobile phone users and usage. Newbury: Vodafone Group R&D. Retrieved from: http://eprints.ucm.es/6477/

Lasén, A. (2012). Autofotos. subjetividades y medios sociales [Selfies: Subjectivities and social media]. In García-Canclini, N., & Cruces, F. (Eds.), Jóvenes, culturas urbanas y redes digitales. Prácticas emergentes en las artes, el campo editorial y la música [Young people, urban cultures and digital networks. Emerging practices in arts, editorial field and music] (pp. 243- 262). Madrid: Ariel.

Lemish, D. (2015). Children and media: A global perspective. Malden: Wiley.

Ling, R. (2008). New tech, new ties. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lippman, J. R., & Campbell, S. W. (2014). Damned if you do, damned if you don't… if you're a girl: Relational and normative contexts of adolescent sexting in the united states. Journal of Children and Media, 8, 371-386. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2014.923009

Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers' use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media & Society, 10, 393-411. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444808089415

Livingstone, S. (2009). Children and the Internet. Cambridge: Polity.

Livingstone, S. (2014). Developing social media literacy: How children learn to interpret risky opportunities on social network sites. Communications, 39, 283-303. https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2014-0113

Lyons, H., Giordano, P. C., Manning, W. D., & Longmore, M. A. (2011). Identity, peer relationships, and adolescent girls' sexual behavior: An exploration of the contemporary double standard. Journal of sex research, 48, 437-449. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2010.506679

Mascheroni, G., & Ólafsson, K. (2014). Net Children Go Mobile: Risks and opportunities. Milan: Educatt. Retrieved from: www.netchildrengomobile.eu/reports

Mazzarella, S. R. (Ed.). (2010). Girl wide web 2.0: Revisiting girls, the Internet, and the negotiation of identity. New York: Peter Lang.

Papacharissi, Z. (2002). The presentation of self in virtual life: Characteristics of personal home pages. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 79, 643-660. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900207900307

Peter, J., Valkenburg, P. M., & Fluckiger, C. (2009). Adolescents and social network sites: Identity, friendship and privacy’. In S. Livingstone & L. Haddon (Eds.), Kids online. Opportunities and risks for children (pp. 83-94). Bristol: Policy Press.

Rennie, D. L., Phillips, J. R., & Quartaro, G. K. (1988). Grounded theory: A promising approach to conceptualisation in psychology Canadian Psychology, 29, 139-150. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0079765

Rettberg, J. W. (2014). Seeing ourselves through technology: How we use selfies, blogs and wearable devices to see and shape ourselves. Palgrave Macmillan.

Ringrose, J., & Eriksson Barajas, K. (2011). Gendered risks and opportunities? Exploring teen girls' digital sexual identity in postfeminist media contexts. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 7, 121-138. https://doi.org/10.1386/macp.7.2.121_1

Ringrose, J., Harvey, L., Gill, R., & Livingstone, S. (2013). Teen girls, sexual double standards and ‘sexting’: Gendered value in digital image exchange. Feminist Theory, 14, 305-323. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700113499853

Scifo, B. (2005). The domestication of camera-phone and MMS communication. Early experiences of young Italians. In K. Nyìri (Ed.), The global and the local in mobile communication (pp. 363-373). Wien: Passagen Verlag.

Smahel, D., & Wright, M. (2014). Meaning of online problematic situation for children. Results of qualitative cross-cultural investigation in nine European countries. London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/56972/1/EU_Kids_Online_Report_Online_Problematic_Situations_for_Children_June2014.pdf

Stald, G. (2008). Mobile identity: Youth, identity, and mobile communication media. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, identity and digital media (pp. 143-164). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Stuart, A., & Donaghue, N. (2012). Choosing to conform: The discursive complexities of choice in relation to Feminine beauty practices. Feminism & Psychology, 22(1), 98-122. https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353511424362

Tinkler, P. (2008) A fragmented picture: Reflections on the photographic practices of young people. Visual Studies, 23, 255-266. https://doi.org/10.1080/14725860802489916

Tortajada I., Araüna N., & Martínez I. J. (2013). Advertising stereotypes and gender representation in social networking sites. Comunicar, 41, 177-186. https://doi.org/10.3916/C41-2013-17

Valkenburg, P., Schouten, A., & Peter, J. (2005). Adolescents’ identity experiments on the internet. New Media and Society, 7, 383-402. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444805052282

Vincent, J. (2011). Emotion and the mobile phone. In H. Greif, L. Hjorth A. Lasén, & C. Lobet-Maris (Eds.), Cultures of participation: Media practices, politics and literacy (pp. 95-109). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.

Vincent, J. (2012). Mediating emotions via visual communications: An exploration of the visual presentation of self via mobile phones. In A. Benedek & K. Nyíri (Eds.), The iconic turn in education (pp. 85-96). Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag.

Willem, C., Araüna, N., Crescenzi, L., & Tortajada, I. (2012). Girls on Fotolog: Reproduction of gender stereotypes or identity play? Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture, 2, 225-242. https://doi.org/10.1386/iscc.2.3.225_1





PDF views