Young women commit to a rigorous set of unofficial rules of conduct while interacting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media, according to a new survey.

Time magazine reports the highlights of a study by social networking site We Heart It that asked 5,000 females ages 13 to 24 about their online social life. The pressure to carefully craft and manage an online brand crosses multiple sites. When asked how they use social media, a focus group of respondents detailed the following ideals, according to Time:

  • Have lots of followers.

  • Have more followers than people you follow.

  • Don't look like you're trying to get followers by hashtagging too much.

  • Don't serial post. ("You only want to post one Instagram a day.")

  • Remove photos that don't get enough likes.

  • Time your posts for optimal like-getting. ("There's a lot of social pressure to get likes, so you have to post it at the right time of day. You don't want to post it during school when people don't have their phone.")

    We read a lot about the teenage brain and its underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Impulse control, sound judgment, reasoning -- all are works in progress. But underdeveloped perspective is an equally powerful force.

    We can -- and should -- tell a 14-year-old girl that too few likes on her photo is so totally not the worst thing in the world. I think we underestimate how much pressure these kids are truly under -- and how ill-equipped they are to deal with it, particularly without a lot of practice in bouncing back and moving on.


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    I'm not sure what we do to change this dynamic in any real, lasting way. Social media is a seemingly untamable beast. But I think the survey results offer a valuable window into the world in which girls and young women are trying to thrive.