Adolescents’ perceptions of their interactions on social media: A qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Objectives: Approximately 87% of 12-15 year olds in the UK use social media, with the majority of adolescents using these platforms as a primary way of communicating and connecting with friends and family (Ofcom, 2021). Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how young people are using social media and to understand risks to mental health (Royal Society for Public Health, 2017). Previous research has mainly explored the motivations behind adolescents’ using social media, with findings reflecting on the importance of social media ‘reactions’ (Bell, 2019; Chua & Chang, 2016). The present study aimed to understand adolescents’ perceptions of the communication intentions of using (or not using) ‘reactions’ online.
Methods: Participants (N=24) between the ages of 13-17 years took part in focus group discussions. Four focus groups were organised to have six adolescents each. Adolescents were asked to reflect on their own social communicative behaviours on social media and on their perceptions of what behaviours online may (or may not) have a social communicative purpose. Focus group recordings were transcribed and analysed using a thematic analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2012).
Results & Conclusions: Identified themes (e.g. showing appreciation, social comparison, social exclusion) will be discussed considering the usefulness of different types of platforms (image based, text based, mixed) and the social communication benefits and pitfalls. A broader discussion will consider the implications for positive and negative mental health outcomes for adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023
EventBPS Developmental Section Conference - United Kingdom, Sheffield
Duration: 14 Sept 202216 Sept 2022


ConferenceBPS Developmental Section Conference
Internet address

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