Identity profiles and digital engagement among Finnish high school students



Developing a stable personal identity is considered a more precarious task in today’s society than hitherto. Skilful digital engagement may, however, constitute a valuable asset in necessary identity exploration and commitment. Applying a person-oriented approach, we examined for the first time how identity profiles are associated with digital engagement, operationalized as digital competence, gaming seriousness, type of internet activity and excessive ICT use. After controlling for gender, life satisfaction and parental SES, this study of a Finnish high school sample (N = 932) revealed that adolescents with future commitments and some exploration of options (achievement, searching moratorium) were the most advanced in digital skills and, in the former case, least prone to excessive ICT use. By contrast, adolescents desperately trying to solve the identity task (ruminative moratorium) scored highest on friendship-driven internet activity and excessive ICT use, whereas diffused individuals had the weakest digital competence. No differences between the profiles emerged regarding gaming and interest-driven internet activity. The results suggest that the digital world and related devices are purposeful tools for shaping and maintaining healthy identity commitments.

Identity formation; identity status; person-oriented approach; digital engagement

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