In, “Parents, Siblings, and Peers: Close Social Relationships and Adolescent Deviance,” published in The Journal of Early Adolescence , researchers examined the influence of family and sibling relationships on behavior usually associated with rebellious behaviors, such as substance use, ignoring authority figures, sexual activity, and cheating on tests.
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Peer acceptance is a big thing for adolescents, and many of them care about their image as much as a politician running for office, and to them it can feel as serious. Add to that the fact that kids today are getting actual polling data on how much people like them or their appearance via things like “likes.” It’s enough to turn anyone’s head. Who wouldn’t want to make herself look cooler if she can? So kids can spend hours pruning their online identities, trying to project an idealized image. Teenage girls sort through hundreds of photos, agonizing over which ones to post online. Boys compete for attention by trying to out-gross one other, pushing the envelope as much as they can in the already disinhibited atmosphere online. Kids gang up on each other.
Avatars and games can give older children and teenagers the opportunity to develop identity and empathy by letting them ‘try on’ different physical and psychological characteristics.