Social Media Friends From Afterschool are Associated With Positive Youth Development in Digital Settings


  • Lisette M. DeSouza Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
  • Linda Charmaraman Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
  • Emily Vargas Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
  • Georgia S. Hall Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College



after-school activities, middle school, positive youth development, peers, social media, adolescence


Positive youth development has been extensively documented in contexts such as the family, school, and afterschool. Emerging theory and research indicate that digital contexts such as social media may also be venues through which young people develop skills and attributes associated with the 5 Cs model of positive youth development and thriving. This research attempted to understand if and how middle school youth’s in-person and online networks connect, and if they do connect, do these connections relate to engaging in beliefs and behaviors associated with PYD. Results suggest that in this sample, middle school youth include peers from afterschool in their online networks, and those who have friends from afterschool and school engaged in PYD- related social media behaviors at higher rates than those who were not connected to in-person networks. No association was found between the amount of time spent in after-school contexts and any of the positive or problematic social media outcomes in this study. Implications for youth development professionals considering the influence of social media on youth, and next steps for research on after-school activities and social media use of middle school youth are discussed.


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