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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 8, 2013

Does Online Social Media Lead to Social Connection or Social Disconnection?

  • Jean M. Twenge EMAIL logo


Today’s young generation (often called Millennials, GenY, or Generation Me) are the first to grow up with the Internet and social networking websites. Have these experiences led to more and better social connections, or fewer and atrophied ones? Social media use may lead to online political action such as signing an e-mail petition but does not appear to lead to other engagement in public life (such as writing to public officials or having more knowledge about politics). Youth who spend more time online are more likely to fight and carry weapons and are less likely to help others, although the direction of causation is unclear. Social media build shallow, “weak” ties, increase self-focus (including narcissism), and may lead to mental health issues for some individuals. Over the time social media became popular, young people’s empathy for others, civic engagement, and political involvement declined.

Jean M. Twenge is professor of psychology at San Diego State University. She is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and the books Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic (with W. Keith Campbell). E-mail:

Published Online: 2013-02-08
Published in Print: 2013-02

© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

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