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Title: The digital world of early adolescents : a study of the use of digital technology to communicate emotionally
Author: Clarke, B. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This dissemination examines the way 10-14 year olds are using digital technology, and in particular the way it is used to communicate emotionally. Little research exists on the way it might affect their wellbeing. The developmental stage of early adolescence and their psychosocial world is examined, and there is discussion of early adolescence as a time of transition. This study examines the social context within which early adolescents are using digital technology and looks in particular at the nature of their communication. It also looks at the psychological developmental processes that are at work as this age group engaged with media that many parents and teachers appear not to understand fully. The study was carried out over two years in the homes of 26 children aged 10-14, living in the south-east of England. The research included over 30 hours of filmed observation, diaries, friendship maps, individual interviews, friendship focus groups and an on-line bulletin board. The study concludes that while the mental processes that take place and the developmental stages have not changed, digital technology is being used to process some of the tasks of early adolescence, especially in identity formation, the importance and the influence of peers, and the way that emotional support is given and received. In playing with identity, building relationships, maintaining friendships and turning to each other for encouragement and companionship, children gain ‘digital agency. This process appears to be beneficial and is an important source of support and comfort to the early adolescent who is experiencing transition both cognitively, physically, and socially, through change of school. The study argues that there may be some who are at risk, and that it is likely that those children who are vulnerable in the off-line world are more likely to engage in risky behaviour when using digital technology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available