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Title: Exploring how and why young people use social networking
Authors: Gray, Laura
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The first chapter of this thesis begins with a systematic review focusing on the literature exploring the relationship between the use of social networking sites (SNS) by young people and their identity development. The chapter explores psychosocial theories of identity development before suggesting the possible role SNS may play in the formation of adolescent theory of self. A difficulty identified through the process was the lack of consensus between authors about the concept of identity. This chapter draws the different descriptions together, and suggests the authors are examining different aspects of the socialisation elements of identity, in line with Hermans and Hermans-Konopka (2010) conceptualisation. The synthesis of the literature presented a confusing, and at times contradictory, picture. The papers claimed a range of findings with some authors suggesting negative associations with identify experiments online and young people’s clarity of self-concept; others suggesting that SNS had a positive association with the socialisation features associated with identity formation; and some studies suggesting no relationship between the two variables. Overall, the synthesis of the literature indicated some relationship between identity and use of SNS, however the direction or causality of these relationships remains unclear. The second chapter discusses how the mixed findings from the systematic review were interpreted to form an empirical research project. It explores why the topic area was chosen, as well as methodological and ethical considerations. A key aim of the empirical research was for the voices of young people to be represented as honestly as possible, which raised further challenges and opportunities through the process. The final chapter presents the empirical research that was conducted. The overarching research question was to broadly examine how and why young people use SNS. Using a four phased methodological approach, young people’s views were gathered at each stage, informing and refining the research questions. An online questionnaire was then developed and circulated to three mainstream secondary schools and a specialist alternative provision within the local area. The results of the questionnaire indicate that, although not explicitly mentioned by young people, identity may be an aspect of why young people use SNS. 5 Analysis of the data also indicates that there are gender and age differences in what SNS young people are using, and which activities they engage in online. A novel finding was identified in that 53% of young people perceive interacting using SNS as different to ‘real-life’. A framework is proposed that builds on previous literature and incorporates the current study’s findings, to attempt to explain the motivators and mediators which result in young people’s chosen activities online. The findings are discussed in further detail, and their implications examined.
Description: D.App. Ed. Psy.
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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