Exploring Young People's Experiences on Social Networking Sites

Prof Doc Thesis

Rehim, S. 2017. Exploring Young People's Experiences on Social Networking Sites. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6724
AuthorsRehim, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Online Social Networking Sites (SNS) are a ubiquitous platform for communication and have been considered as one of the most significant changes to how young people interact today. Whilst SNS bring many opportunities, they have also been used as a tool for harassment and abuse online. The term ‘cyberbullying’, is most widely used to describe this phenomenon. A growing body of research demonstrates that cyberbullying has the potential to detrimentally impact young people’s wellbeing. However, this impact is not universal as not all young people describe being negatively affected by cyberbullying. In spite of this, little is known about what mediates the impact of cyberbullying and how resilience is maintained in the face of such challenges. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore young people’s constructions of negative experiences on SNS and understand the influences and processes mediating such experiences.
Fourteen participants (16-18 years old) with previous negative experiences on SNS took part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory methodology. One core category was constructed: ‘(Re)building self-concept and protective shielding’. It captures the process of making sense of, responding to and resisting the effects of a negative experience online involving complex inter-relationships between the online, individual, social and political context. Central to the findings was participant’s experience of an attack on their self-concept. From being targeted online, participants described harnessing control and responding in several ways (such as using technical strategies, confiding in trusted relationships, re-focusing on meaningful activities and roles) to buffer against the negative impact and (re)build their self-concept. Through this process they gained awareness and took control over their self-narrative which facilitated the development of a protective buffer against future attacks. Limitations of these findings and their implications for future research and practice are considered.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6724
Publication dates
PrintMay 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Jan 2018
Publisher's version
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