How does digital narcissism affect teenagers

Social media as a playground for people with narcissism

Social media such as Google plus, Facebook, Instagram and Co. offer numerous opportunities for people with narcissism to present themselves.

Today, young people's wellbeing is often related to social media and personality traits such as empathy and narcissism. Accordingly, this is often the focus of frequent concerns about the impact of digital life. Understanding the known implications and research gaps in these areas is an important first step in supporting media use.


Engagement in social media, empathy and narcissism

Social media often have a positive effect on happiness, life satisfaction and prosocial attitudes as well as on the behavior of young people. In examining existing work on these topics in various areas, researchers have now discovered that there is a complex interplay of individual factors. This applies to the type of engagement in social or digital media as well as experiences in media contexts with regard to well-being, social solidarity, empathy and narcissism.

Even so, many questions remain unanswered. For example, how, where, when and for whom digital media practices have positive effects on well-being and social networking. The causal relationships between traits such as narcissism and media use also need to be examined. This also includes the temporal usage patterns of the media and the associated effects.

It also begs the question of what future technologies could promote positive well-being, social outcomes, and prosocial personality traits. Finally, research is also needed on parenting, educational practices, and guidelines that support positive digital media uses and outcomes.

On the one hand, existing research suggests that social media has mixed potentials and effects on well-being, social connectedness, empathy, and narcissism. On the other hand, the findings help doctors, political decision-makers and educators to develop recommendations for positive media use in cooperation with caregivers and young people.


Opportunities for self-expression have grown through Facebook, Instagram and Co. - also for narcissistic people

People with narcissism use social media very often and intensively to present themselves as positively as possible. But there is also an inverse correlation. Studies have shown that adults between the ages of 20 and 30 who grew up using social media have significantly higher levels of narcissism than those over 30. They are also at increased risk of developing addiction online. Psychologists from the Ruhr University Bochum point this out in the journal “PiD Psychotherapie im Dialog” (Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart. 2019). Therapists should therefore address narcissistic patients early on about excessive use of social media and discuss the reasons with them. At the same time, it is important to look for alternatives, for example in sport, that allow them to be recognized from the outside and at the same time ensure internal satisfaction.


J. Brailovskaia, H.-W. Bierhoff: Generation Me: Social Media and Narcissism. PiD Psychotherapy in Dialogue 2019; 20 (3): pp. 26-30

James C, Davis K, Charmaraman L, Konrath S, Slovak P, Weinstein E, Yarosh L. Digital Life and Youth Well-being, Social Connectedness, Empathy, and Narcissism. Pediatrics. 2017 Nov; 140 (Suppl 2): ​​S71-S75. doi: 10.1542 / peds.2016-1758F.