Does social media influence gender self-identification among adolescents?
Campaigns in social media encouraging an open perception of gender identity seem to be a step towards social acceptance of diversity in the context of sexuality. Especially teenagers struggling with gender dysphoria from an early age can openly function socially in accordance with their gender identity, without fear of social stigmatization. Campaigns focused on sexuality have contributed to the discussion in the medical sector, and as a result, the NHS offers gender transformation services such as Gender Affirmation Surgery and cross-sex hormone therapy. The influence of widely understood social media seems to be positive and successive. On the other hand, people gradually enter adult life seeking an understanding of the world around them. Referring to the Social learning theory, we learn by adapting to the environment and through this, we assimilate the behaviour of individuals and groups around us, which in turn affects the development of our personality and perception of the world.
A not uncommon phenomenon is the misinterpretation of symptoms indicating gender identity disorders, which could lead to biases eg. confirmation bias, where a person ascribes or exaggerates features or social identity theory, which results in identifying with a group that perceives as socially attractive.
Social media undoubtedly provide us with a large amount of data regarding the surrounding world, although we also often fall into information bubbles resulting from the fact that we do not develop basic skills that can help us in analyzing the content. While exploring both the external and internal world, abilities such as critical evaluation of information reaching us, awareness and perception of cognitive biases and the development of emotional intelligence may prove helpful.
As we know, both men and women have characteristics that help us determine our gender identity. They are not only physical characteristics but also personality characteristics. The interpretation of these features could be influenced by both emotions and the endocrine system, which is why it is considered so important to understand our emotions in depth and to examine the correct functioning of our endocrine system.
Becoming aware of the factors that may potentially affect our gender interpretation may contribute to achieving a higher state of awareness and thus leading a happy life in accordance with our own interior instead of relying on social expectations whether we should identify ourselves in accordance with our biological sex or the sex which comes from our internal interpretation. The abundance of information flowing from the Internet may be helpful in the development of self-awareness but it can also contribute to confusion about who we are, so learning critical thinking skills could be crucial for ar self-awareness development.