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Title: Spiralling out of control? : online vulnerability in ego-centric networks
Author: Buglass, Sarah L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 4189
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2018
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Online social network sites (SNS) are a ubiquitous method of socialising in the digital era. A potential source of social support, their continued and frequent use has been linked to a fear of missing out (FOMO) and the implicit desire to regulate offline psychological needs deficits through online connective behaviours. This thesis provides an examination of the online vulnerability implications associated with social networking. A multi-methods approach was used combining self-report surveys with digitally derived data from participants’ online networks. Participants were sampled by age-group (adolescents, university students, and adults), rendering an overall sample of 506 (53% male; 13 to 77 years) UK based Facebook users, from which subsequent study-specific datasets were derived. Data were analysed using confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modelling, mediation analysis, multilevel modelling, and social network analysis. The results indicate that: (1) FOMO and online connective behaviours mediate the relationship between offline psychological vulnerability and exposure to negative online experiences; (2) offline vulnerabilities have the capacity to initiate a cycle of potentially problematic online behaviour; (3) maintaining a large, diverse network of social connections is associated with higher levels of reported exposure to negative online experiences; (4) the presence of certain types of individuals / online entities might be associated with an individual experiencing negative online experiences, and (5) adult users might be less likely to perceive themselves as vulnerable to negative online experiences when compared to adolescent users. The research contributes to knowledge and understanding of online life by providing a digitally enhanced perspective of the implications that offline psycho-social motivations, online behaviours, and user characteristics can have on an individual’s vulnerability to negative online experiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available