Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents, and the Media, ed. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 2006). Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Adolescence is marked by a number of physical, cognitive, and social changes that interact to create a number of developmental needs specific to this age group. As adolescents seek to define themselves independently of their parents, they often turn to media as sources of self-socialization and of messages about their identity in terms of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Although parents and peers remain influential during this transition, this entry focuses on adolescents’ use of media to navigate developmental changes and cope with the daily difficulties of being teenagers, and on the role of media in shaping adolescents’ development of identity and autonomy.