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Title: The interrelationships between social networking site use, school connectedness, peer connectedness and social competence, and their influence on early adolescent wellbeing : an exploratory study
Author: Girdham, Sharon
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 2160
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2017
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Concerns for early adolescent mental health have increased, leading to consideration of how to optimise the psychological wellbeing of children and young people within secondary school contexts (HM Government, 2017). Parallel to this is growing recognition that online social networking sites (SNS) occupy a pivotal role in how early adolescents communicate and interact with each other (Olufadi, 2016). Understanding the implications of SNS use, and harnessing any potential to enhance wellbeing has been identified as a relevant aspect of future strategies aiming to support early adolescent development and social functioning (DoH, 2015). This study responds to these research and governmental agendas, presenting an exploration into the potential influence of SNS use in promoting and protecting early adolescent wellbeing. Preliminary examination of the literature revealed three relevant positive wellbeing correlates: school connectedness; peer connectedness; and social competence. In order to enhance the extant research in this area, this study explored the interrelationships between SNS use, school connectedness, peer connectedness and social competence, and their influence on early adolescent wellbeing. A non-experimental, cross-sectional correlational design employing questionnaire survey data collection was employed with young people aged 12-13 years (N = 532), drawn from four secondary schools within one Academy Trust. Data were analysed for effects of moderation and mediation using the computational tool PROCESS (Hayes, 2013). Analyses revealed school as the primary domain for developing and maintaining all early adolescent interactions; positively contributing to wellbeing. Outside of the school context, SNS use was found to positively enhance the relationship between school connectedness and wellbeing. In contrast, engaging in SNS use was found to exert some negative influence on the relationship between peer connectedness and wellbeing. An interpretation of these findings highlights the complexity of these relationships and the influence of degrees of friendship and perceptions of social competence in offline and online domains. Among the implications, is a potential influence of time spent online on ‘close friendships’; potentially reducing perceptions of peer connectedness. These differentiated findings, including implications of gender, are considered in relation to the needs of schools and young people. The validity and limitations of this study’s design are explored, and directions for the future research considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.App.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; RJ Pediatrics