Young people have rapidly taken up social network sites (SNSs) as their preferred online communication platforms. While using SNSs, adolescents self-disclose, they entrust information about, amongst others, their personal experiences. Moreover, they form and deepen relationships with their SNS contacts, which contributes to their social capital. Research focusing on adolescents, self-disclosure and social capital is, however, characterized by several limitations that this project aims to address.
Until now research has focused on SNS users' profile information or used general measures of self-disclosure. However, young people may experience changes in important domains of their personal life, such as their appearance and relationships, and be inclined to self-disclose about them on SNSs. Therefore, this project takes a longitudinal approach to investigate how young people self-disclose on SNSs about several domains of their personal life. By doing so, this project analyzes how self-disclosure in these domains evolves over time and possibly relates to psychological and social gratifications adolescents may experience.
Regarding the psychological aspects, this project will add to the current literature by investigating the antecedents (in terms of personality traits) and consequences (e.g. well-being) of adolescents' disclosures in several domains. Subsequently, how gratifications possible lead to changes in self-disclosure, will also be analyzed.
As far as social gratifications are concerned, this project will study the relationship between self-disclosure and young people's changes in social capital. In turn, how variations in social capital may influence adolescents' consecutive disclosures, will also be investigated longitudinally.
Finally, next to positive outcomes of young people's self-disclosure in terms of well-being and social capital, the impact of negative experiences will be studied too. More particularly, the project investigates how adolescents' self-disclosing behaviour possibly lead to negative outcomes and how they, in turn, influence subsequent self-disclosures.