Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Wei-Chin Hwang

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Earlier maturation is becoming a great risk factor with social media use in children ages 8 to 12. With the large amount of posts on social media being circulated, increased usage of social networking sites among pre-teens, and decreased censorship that is exposed online, children are being thrown into a post-pandemic society that is openly sexual and chronically online. New avenues of learning about sexual wellness on social media not only creates new educational spaces, but also poses some risks for the previously known stages of development. Ultimately, popular sexual media alongside the online parasocial relationships between tweens and influencers has erased a stage of teen development that popular society labels “the tween phase”. It is now replaced by a direct development from being a “kid” to becoming an adult. This thesis examines prior literature that explores teenage social media engagement and how it influences earlier maturation in teens and normalizes the sexual conversation online. Furthermore, the concept of parasocial relationships is examined as well as the risks that come with social media use in tweens including types of risky behavior and mental health concerns. Ultimately, the result of social media’s impact on the sexual development of teens has erased a state of “in-betweenness” that defines tweenhood, and allows for an explanation of why kids are growing up faster in modern technological times. Ways in which society can adjust to these developmental changes are discussed and future directions for research are suggested with the erasure of tweenhood.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.