I am going to be doing a little presentation next week at a luncheon at an organization regarding children being online and social networking. The focus is keeping them “safe” in some sense, but it will be more along the lines of just being aware of what is out there, how to keep tabs on it, building the necessary vocabulary to understand it, etc.

I think the big thing I am going to harp on is just helping people understand why people join these sites and do the things they do. Once you understand the why, everything else falls into place. As far as I can tell from observation and my own personal experiences, the main reason is just selfish validation. What I mean by that is that people are using these sites basically for the purpose of having their own existence justified and validated by receiving positive feedback. Whether it’s Digg promoting things, Facebook with the “like” button and status update responses, Twitter and getting responses to tweets… everything is intended to be a virtual pat on the back to just prove that you exist.

While narcissism extends far into adulthood, there is no denying that it is far more prevalent among children (especially teenagers) and their rebellious age. It is always about finding your place, understanding where you fit into the world, blah blah blah.

What does everyone think about this? Would you describe it differently? What other reasons do people have for joining and participating in these social networking communities?