The Real Facebook

Is social media becoming a huge part of your teens' social world? Try this activity to connect with them.

By Taylor Freeman, M.S., LPC, LMFT Group Innovation Manager | Nov 11, 2016
Real Facebook

One of the main tasks of adolescence is identity formation.  During this developmental stage, adolescents are faced with the task of learning who they are and what it means to be who they are.  This process manifests through interactions with others, including friends, family, teachers, coaches and mentors.  These interactions serve as a mirror that reflects back to the adolescent who he or she is and who he or she is becoming.  Recently, the adolescent mirror has become virtual as social media has become a large part of the adolescent social landscape.  In fact, 71% of teens use more than one media- Facebook is used the most often at 41 percent,  followed by Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google+,  tumblr, and Vine.  

Part of the process of identity development is the development of multiple selves.  We have:
The Ideal self: who the adolescent imagines themselves to be
The Actual self: who the adolescent really is
The Feared self: who the adolescent most fears becoming, and
The False self: who the adolescent pretends to be. 
In order to create more self-awareness and tease out the actual self, we engage adolescents in this art activity with a social-media lens.
We tell the teens, “Consider the different roles you play and the different aspects of yourself you embody in different contexts and environments. For example, do you act the same way in front of your friends as you do in front of you parents? Your teachers? A coach or mentor? What are the aspects of yourself that you show to others and what are the aspects of yourself that you choose to remain hidden?  How do you choose which parts of yourself to present on Facebook or Instagram?
I show them this Facebook template and ask them to create the ideal self that they represent to others on the front.  I say, “How many friends do you have on Facebook? How many notifications do you get?  How many pictures are you tagged in? What is your status update?  Interests? Activities? Favorite Movie? Favorite Music?”
Then I ask them to flip the paper over. (Here's the second template.)  I say, “Now, on the back, create your actual self.  How many friends do you actually consider yourself to have?  What are your actual interests, favorite activities, movies and music?”
As always with our therapeutic programs, we conclude with processing questions. Here are a few:
Which side of the paper was the easiest to complete? Why?
Were there any similarities between the two sides? What were they?
How did you feel while completing this activity?
What was hard about this activity?
What did you learn about yourself?
This activity can also be done with Instagram, if that’s a better fit for the teens you’re working with. Here’s an Instagram template. I use the same basic intro, but I have them draw pictures or write words to describe themselves in different environments. The Instagram activity gives us a chance to talk about filters, and I can ask questions such as, “which self do you filter the most? Which self do you feel that you don’t have to filter?”