The Experience of Using Online Social Networking Sites for Children in UK Secondary Schools: The Impact on Cognition, Social Relationships, Sense of Self and the Role of Parents - a Mixed Method 2 Phase Analysis
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis is subject to an embargo period of 18 months
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I intend to publish work based on the thesis content
The use of social networking sites (SNS) is a relatively new field of academic enquiry. Growing concern over adolescents’ and children’s internet use has spawned research on the possible effects of internet use on adolescent and child development (Shen, Liu, & Wang, 2013). This research thesis is designed to explore what social networking sites and apps are being used by children in two UK secondary schools. To investigate when they are accessing their social networks, to measure what extent the use of SNS occupies young people’s minds and to gain a deeper understanding of the experience of being in secondary school, immersed in the use of social networking. A mixed methods, two phase, research design was employed. The first phase of this study employed the use of questionnaires incorporating an adapted internet addiction Test (Young, 1998). The 1148 participants in phase 1 were from across 2 UK secondary schools, in Years 9, 10 and 11 (aged 13 – 16 years old). Phase 2 of this research thesis identified 8 individuals (4 males, 4 females) who scored highly on the adapted internet addiction test (Young, 1998) used in phase 1. These participants took part in semi-structured interviews which were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The results of this study showcase a breadth and depth of data regarding the uses of SNS. Phase 1 of this study indicated that 2% of participants are experiencing significant problems in their life because of their social networking usage (SNS occupies their minds to a severe extent). 41% of participants reported experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of social networking (SNS occupies their minds to a moderate extent). 45% of participants may use social networking a bit too long at times, but they have control over their usage (SNS occupies their minds to a mild extent). 12% of participants report that it is very rare for social networking use to have any negative impact on their life (SNS occupies their minds to a normal extent). Phase 2 results identified a number of key themes experienced by children whose minds are occupied by SNS to a moderate or severe level, including: *Connection to others: Social connection; Relationship maintenance; The monitoring of others *Identity and Construction of the Self: Change over time; A part of you; The role of parent *Cyber-bullying: Group Judgement & Reaction; A venue/channel for negativity; ‘Blocking’ as protection *From online to in-school: Interference of work; Threats, intimidation or violence. This research thesis adds to the growing body of research regarding the uses and experiences of social networking sites. This thesis concludes with an exploration of the limitations of this research, future directions for study and the implications for educational psychology practice.
DEdPsy in Educational, Child and Community Psychology