The word resilience is being tossed about by all and sundry as both (1) a problem for children and young people and the lack thereof - and (2) a universal solution to coping with the struggles and disappointments of life.

Despite all the theorising and research, creating a recipe for a resilience formula remains an elusive quest. If it was possible to distil resilience and bottle it for universal consumption we would have done this a long time ago.

I have been reading a set of academic papers on the theme of Maori and Resilience. This has provided a whole new perspective on the dynamic of a resilience that, as I understood it, is grounded in the concept of resistance and rebellion as a response that challenges the status quo.

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One of the examples given was resisting the imposition of euro-centric education models by establishing Kura with Te Reo as the basis of learning. This resistance in turn built a strong foundation for resilience in both a social and whanau context.

This is but one story of how resisting influence and rebelling against the status quo can create fundamental change, supporting identity and a base for ongoing resilience. Using this model, it is evident that developing resilience is a destination on a continuum that links into rebelling and resisting the many and various influences that diminish identity.

Social media gets blamed with lots of ills, including creating enormous pressure on children and young people to conform to the demands of commercial interests and buy into unrealistic images of how they should look and behave.

Online bullying, trolling, abusive language and threats are another insidious form of attack on identity. Resisting such powerful influences requires rebelling, refusing to accept such behaviours and taking a stand to protect yourself, your peers and others in the community.

It seems an odd thing to suggest that people should rebel, especially children and young people, but developing resilience can mean encouraging them to actively challenge, resist and rebel against the messages and pressures to simply conform without ever questioning the many influences on their identity that come from social media, advertising and corporate agendas.

Rebelling tends to be regarded as a bad thing. It has always been a given that youth will rebel against their elders and the struggle to retain the moral high ground across the generation gap is nothing new.

But resistance to the ongoing attempts by contemporary forces to manipulate and influence identity requires rebellion if young people are to recover some ownership of themselves in the face of intense pressures to have online "likes" and emulate unrealistic images of success that they see on the internet.

If a growing proportion of young people rebel and reject the demands and pressures to conform to online ideals this will weaken the commercial impetus, undermining the bottom line of the business model.

If the potential to profit from the vulnerable identity phase of young people's lives can be dismantled, it is worth calling all youth to the barricades and encouraging them to rebel, resist and take back their sense of self from faceless corporates who would "like" to profit from their influence in people's lives.

This is not rebellion in the rioting, overthrowing of authority sense but too misquote the villainous Dalek's oft repeated catch-cry in the Dr Who series; "Resistance is useful".

■Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician and social worker. Feedback via: