"It's not all negative like": exploring adolescent girls' perceptions of their social media use

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Flynn, Lauren
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Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork
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This dissertation was completed as part of the UCC CARL initiative in conjunction with The Shona Project. This research explores the social media habits of 14-17 year old girls in Ireland, as well as their perception of how social media affects their lives. The existing research in the area is largely concerned with the negative implications of social media use on mental health, body image and social comparison, and cyberbullying; this is addressed in the literature review. The epistemological positioning applied to this research is social constructivism; this was underpinned by interpretivism as the theoretical perspective. Community-based participatory research is a core component of this dissertation. Primary research was carried out and data was collected from 98 participants via questionnaire. Quantitative data was analysed using the IBM statistical analysis software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Descriptive statistics relating to social media habits were extracted and outlined in the research findings. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis. The themes highlighted in the findings include: using social media to keep in contact with friends and family, adult misperceptions of social media, responsible social media use, social media as a positive influence, and concerns regarding social media. The majority of participants reported positive experiences of social media, including using it as a tool for communication and source of inspiration, motivation and education. Participants reported feeling that adults have an unduly negative view of adolescent social media use as well as a lack of understanding of the logistics of social media. A number of concerns relating to social media were also reported, including cyberbullying and anonymity online, fake content, addictive potential, digital footprint, and social pressure of social media. A number of recommendations informed by the findings are also outlined.
Adolescent girls , Social media use , The Shona Project , 14-17 year old girls , Cyberbullying , Social media habits , Anonymity online
Flynn, L. (2020) "It's not all negative like": exploring adolescent girls' perceptions of their social media use. Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork.
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