The Digital Gap: An Exploration of Social and Emotional Aspects of Adolescent Behavior Online and Offline
|Walsh, Julia Marie
|The Digital Gap: An Exploration of Social and Emotional Aspects of Adolescent Behavior Online and Offline Julia M. Walsh Doctor of Philosophy Temple University, 2015 Major Advisor: Frank Farley, PhD Access to the Internet and the use of social networking sites are commonplace activities for modern day adolescents. This part of life is a crucial time of growth based in the development of identity and meaningful peer relationships and peer group affiliations. With the growing popularity of social networking sites comes both negative and positive outcomes for teens’ social and emotional functioning, which ultimately impacts the advancement of psychosocial autonomy. This study is designed to help parents and educators understand the social and emotional facets of adolescent behavior in the online and offline settings as they provide guidance, support, and direction to teens as well as develop educational programs that address teens and technology. The study examines various aspects of social and emotional functioning among adolescents in three social settings: in school, outside of school, and on social networking sites. The features of social and emotional functioning that are examined include: personal outcomes of social situations, communication about risk behavior, reactions to mean and cruel behavior, and affective and conative functioning. In addition, the extent to which teens report possessing thrill-seeking personality characteristics is also measured. The relationship between these variables is investigated through self-report data, gathered through a questionnaire, and provided by 117 students at a suburban high school outside of Philadelphia, PA. Results of the study suggest that, in general, adolescents’ personal outcomes of social experiences, communication about risk behaviors, and reactions to mean and cruel behavior appear to occur substantially more often during social activities outside of school in contrast to in school or on a social networking site. With respect to personal experiences, adolescents report having generally positive experiences more often than negative experiences across all three settings. With regard to communication about risk behaviors, teens report talking about alcohol, drugs, sex, and tobacco more often during social activities outside of school than in school or on a social networking site. Adolescents also report communicating significantly more often about sex and alcohol and to a lesser extent drugs, in contract to tobacco use. In relation to reactions to mean and cruel behavior, the teens in this sample report that they are significantly more likely to defend the victim, ignore the situation, or tell the person to stop rather than join in the harassment. Teens are significantly more likely to engage in these reactions to mean and cruel behavior during social activities outside of school and in school in contrast to time spent on a social networking site. Little information was discerned regarding affective and conative functioning. Finally, thrill seeking (i.e. Type T personality traits) were less associated with risk- taking behavior and more associated with social responses to mean and cruel behavior. It is important to note limitations of this research regarding the sample, such as racial make-up and gender distribution, as well as with respect to sampling and the tool of measurement. Nonetheless, this study provides valuable insight into the developmental period of adolescence and how it is impacted by advancements in technology, particularly as these changes relate to socialization. Parents, educators, researchers, and policy makers must be aware of the differences that exist between the physical and virtual settings for teens. Results from this study will inform parents and educators about the factors most associated with psychosocial development for adolescents in today’s world. These findings, in conjunction with findings from previous research, will provide support for ways to communicate with teens about pertinent features of social and emotional functioning as well as inform the development of new educational programs to train parents and students on the purpose, use, and advantages and disadvantages of online communication.
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|The Digital Gap: An Exploration of Social and Emotional Aspects of Adolescent Behavior Online and Offline
|DuCette, Joseph P.
|Fiorello, Catherine A.
|Gross, Steven Jay
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