Document Type


Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


This study examines the impact of Internet usage on the self-identity development in 10 students between the ages of 12 and 18. Using Erickson's Ego Identity Theory, the computer mediated communication (CMC) practices of students from private and public schools are evaluated through in-depth interviews. All students are frequent users of instant relay chat (IRC) and have a minimum of one year of experience with Instant Messenger. Identity development is examined using questions generated from a modified form of the Objective Measure of Ego-Identity Status developed by Adams and Ryan (2000). The four dimensions of Identity Development examined here are avoidance decision-making, identity formation, self-reflection and ego strength or fidelity. Results indicate Internet usage impacts each of these dimensions in the adolescents studied. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed. [China Media Research. 2007; 3(1):99-109].