Teens, Social Media, & Negative Feedback: Who is At-Risk?


negative feedbackToday, teens are confronted with both positive and negative feedback on social media. Negative feedback can have negative consequences for well-being, yet we know little about who is most at-risk for experiencing such feedback. A new CcaM study was designed to identify which teens are most at risk for receiving such feedback, and why. Results indicate that adolescents engaging in risky online behavior are the most likely to receive negative feedback online.

Of course, not all teens engaged in risky behavior. Indeed, this study indicates that adolescents who engaged in these risky behaviors were older, had higher levels of sensation seeking and experienced higher levels of conflict in their families. These risky behaviors took the form of online social exploration (i.e. exploring new social contacts) and risky self-presentation (i.e. by posing in a provocative or sexy way). 

Importantly, while the results of the study indicate that most adolescents receive positive feedback on the messages and pictures that they post on social media, a small percentage frequently receive negative feedback. As research suggests that this negative feedback can harm adolescents’ well-being, this study provides crucial information on who is most at-risk. Such information can be particularly helpful to parents, caregivers, and public policy makers interested in mitigating the negative consequences of social media. 

For this study, 785 Dutch teens filled in a questionnaire. The teens (aged 10 to 14) reported how often they received negative comments online as well as completed measures of sensation seeking, inhibitory control, peer problems, and family conflict.

The study was conducted by a team of CcaM researchers: Maria Koutamanis, Helen Vossen and Patti Valkenburg. 

Click here to read the article “Adolescents’ comments in social media: why do adolescents receive negative feedback and who is most at risk?” published in the Computers in Human Behavior

If you would like more information about this article, please contact the corresponding author – Maria Koutamanis – via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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