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Title: The role of screen-based media in the development and maintenance of peer relationships in adolescents with and without autism spectrum conditions in Malta
Author: Zammit, Alexia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 1760
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This study examined the way cognitively able autistic (n=24) and typically developing (n=24) adolescents in Malta use screen-based media, with a focus on the potential ways in which it might relate to young people’s peer relationships. The study also examined the views of parents of autistic (n=12) and typically developing (n=12) youngsters in relation to their adolescents’ use of screen based technology and the ways in which they feel this helps or hinders their interactions with others. The study employed a mixed methods approach, including semi-structured interviews with young people and their parents, adding a qualitative dimension to existing, quantitative research. Quantitative information on the nature of their best-friendships and a recording of their screen-media habits over a one-week period was also carried out. Findings indicate that typically developing young people report using screen-based media more frequently to connect with known peers than autistic adolescents, although face-to-face communication was preferred to online interactions in both groups. Screen-based media was also used to support leisure and academic activities across both groups, although autistic individuals prefer using screen-based media alone rather than with others. Parental perceptions of screen-media use focused mostly on risk and safety. These issues, together with cultural factors, emphasised family contact time and face-to-face interactions, which may have a role in shaping Maltese adolescents’ preferences for communication with peers. Limitations, implications for future research and educational psychology practice are discussed.
Supervisor: Pellicano, E. ; Hill, V. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available