The use of social networking sites in adolescents and young adults: exploring the possible implications in youth mental health.

Barber, Alice (2019) The use of social networking sites in adolescents and young adults: exploring the possible implications in youth mental health. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Background: Much research has investigated the possible positive or negative impact of online socialising, with often contradictory findings. Theories suggest that individuals with poor social functioning and existing psychopathology may be both at increased risk of negative internet use, while potentially also able to derive greater benefits through compensatory opportunities. However, there is a dearth of research investigating this topic in clinical populations.

Aims: This portfolio sought to synthesise the existing findings and address the significant gap in the literature regarding clinical youth populations.

Methods: A systematic review synthesised the findings of 15 quantitative studies, regarding the relationship between social anxiety and the use of social networking sites in young people. A cross-sectional study provided a novel investigation of online socialising in young people accessing mental health services, compared with two age-matched control samples.

Results: The systematic review demonstrated a consistent association between social anxiety and problematic use of social networking sites. It identified various ways in which online interactions may be perceived as more comfortable for socially anxious individuals; however, there was limited evidence for compensatory benefits. The empirical results again demonstrated limited evidence for compensatory benefits. The clinical sample reported similar value from their online and offline interactions; however, levels of both online and offline social connectedness were significantly lower than controls. Levels of problematic internet use were similar across the samples, although certain subscales were higher in the clinical sample.

Conclusions: This portfolio highlights the complexity of understanding the possible impact of online socialising. It is argued that any attempt to simply label online socialising as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ should be abandoned, and there should be a focus on understanding the underlying processes and mechanisms that may predict positive versus detrimental use. These results reflect early explorative findings, therefore, replication and extension using clinical populations will be important.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Users 11011 not found.
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2019 13:48
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 13:48


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