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Paradoxes and strategies of social media consumption among adolescents

Renato Hübner Barcelos (Management School, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Carlos Alberto Vargas Rossi (Management School, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to study paradoxes and strategies of social media consumption among adolescents. Young people belonging to Generation Y have enthusiastically embraced social media as a means of achieving connectedness and managing social relationships. However, there is still a limited understanding of how adolescents actually differentiate between the media they use and of the effects of social media on their lives. This study differs from previous work by proceeding from the assumption that social media present a number of technological paradoxes and identifying what behavioral strategies they develop to derive the greatest possible benefit from, and cope with the ambivalent outcomes of, social media consumption.


An exploratory study design was chosen, combining the use of focus groups and in-depth interviews with 50 Brazilian adolescents aged between 13 and 17 years. Topics of discussion were designed to cover a range of social media relevant to young people.


The authors propose a conceptual model of social media consumption by young people and identify its positive and negative outcomes and the behavioral strategies of media selection and differentiation used to cope with them. These behaviors enable adolescents to derive maximum benefit from social media while minimizing the effort required to use them.


This research contributes to marketing theory and practice by assessing the adolescent perspective of social media consumption and offering an integrated model of outcomes and behavioral strategies which they use. This model provides insights relevant to the planning of marketing communications directed towards young people.



Hübner Barcelos, R. and Alberto Vargas Rossi, C. (2014), "Paradoxes and strategies of social media consumption among adolescents", Young Consumers, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 275-295.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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