Amy Tam, Content Development Intern, is writing a series of
posts for the ReachOut Pro blog that explore current trends in
technology and online behaviour. Her field of studies are in
Psychology, Social Work, and Studio Art.
Planking is a growing popular game, in which a person lies face
down stiff as a board in various locations and uploads the pictures
or videos online (Flock, 2011). Facebook has become one of
the sites people have used most frequently to upload pictures or
videos of themselves planking; thus the new game has gained a large
appeal for users on Facebook. The thrill of the game is
composing a great picture or video; usually this involves choosing
a unique or sometimes dangerous location. However, the desire
to create a more unique composition involves risks. Planking
portrays how influential the internet (i.e. Facebook), social
learning, and psychosocial development have on the younger
According to Alfred Bandura's social learning theory, people
learn through observation, imitation, and modelling (Ormrod,
1999). Bandura suggested that the environment reinforces
modelling so people are more likely to repeat a behaviour through
positive reinforcement (Ormrod, 1999). Since most of the
supporters of planking are fans or plankers themselves, people
participating in the game are constantly receiving positive
reinforcement. Therefore, acts of planking are more likely to
increase and to be repeated whether or not it is considered
dangerous or risky.
On the Facebook page that promotes planking, most people
expressed that they plank "for adrenaline and for amazement, and
not to commit suicide" (Flock, 2011). Another planker
participated in the game in order to show his peers that he was
mature for his age (Flock, 2011). Planking was a way for
younger people to prove to their peers that they were cool, random,
unique, and mature.
In Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development,
adolescents and young adults go through identity versus role
confusion and intimacy versus isolation. Adolescents are
teenagers, ages 12 to 18 years old; during this age, they are
developing a sense of self and identity (About.com, 2011).
Therefore, acceptance from peers is crucial in their development of
identity. Young adults are ages 19 to 40 years old.
During this time, they are learning to form intimate, loving
relationships with other people (About.com, 2011). At this
stage, young adults are seeking long-term relationships/friendships
with people. Both stages of development suggest how important
it is for young people to develop a strong sense of identity
because with their identity, it becomes easier to develop long-term
relationships with others.
This new online game reveals how people's environment plays a
major role in participation. When interacting with young
people, it is important to know that they are undergoing their
development in identity. Finding ways or resources to build a
positive identity would help young people make decisions that are
positive and beneficial for them.