Teenage girls' daily engagement with mass media: implications for identity construction and well-being

by Andrea Gooch

Institution: AUT University
Year: 0
Keywords: Mass media; Teenage girls; Identity construction; Well-being
Record ID: 1303065
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10292/8650


A process of identity formation often defines teenage years where young people transition into adulthood. Multiple factors such as family environment and sociocultural context contribute to shaping teen girls’ identities, what they believe in and how they see themselves as fitting into the world around them. Mass media plays a big part in constructing social realities, often depicting narrow and limited depictions of masculinity, femininity and ideal girlhood. Young people, who may have less experience and critical awareness when it comes to media messages, may take on stereotypical or problematic images as representing reality. This research project explores from a social constructionist perspective, teenage girls daily engagement with the mass media and the implications of this for their identity construction, health, and well-being. Six face-to-face interviews were conducted with teen girls aged between 14 and 17 years old. These girls were asked to collect media images over one week and their responses to these images were discussed. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted and four dominant themes were identified within the talk: ‘It’s all about appearance’; ‘Attracting the boys’; “Inspirational content”; and ‘The pressure to be “trendy”. These themes are discussed demonstrating the difficult terrain teen girls face in navigating the vast and pervasive nature of mass media in constructing their personal identity. Further research is necessary into the nature of teen girls’ engagement with mass media with comparative data required from a teen boy population to expand and support initial insights gained from this project.