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Young people’s perspectives on the role of the media in wellbeing

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Amy Singleton
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Publication date2014
Number of pages233
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Place of PublicationLancaster
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis explores the role of traditional media and “new medias” such as Social Networking Sites (SNS) in various aspects of adolescents’ wellbeing. It comprises of a literature review, a research paper, a critical appraisal and an ethics section.

The literature review synthesises qualitative research exploring the role of the media in adolescents’ body image. A meta-ethnographic approach was utilised to synthesise the findings of 12 qualitative studies. Through the process of reciprocal translation four core concepts were generated: “Internalising an Unattainable Ideal”, “Cultural Relevance and Reflected Appraisals”, “Not Measuring Up: The self-ideal discrepancy” and “Responding to the Self-Ideal Discrepancy”. These concepts represent adolescents’ experiences of internalising the media ideal, processes of social comparison and implementing various strategies to manage the impact of such comparisons. Clinical implications highlight the potential value of therapeutic approaches in supporting young people with body image dissatisfaction and the need for a fuller understanding and a broader conceptualisation of boys’ body related concerns.

The research paper explores the impact of SNS experiences on the wellbeing of young people accessing mental health services. Twelve young people participated in semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed verbatim and analysed using grounded theory methodology. A theoretical framework was developed which identified two key mechanisms of SNS use that influenced adolescents’ wellbeing, “threats and judgement” and “connection and support”. Young people implemented a range of strategies to enable their continued use of SNS, despite difficult experiences. The findings highlight the importance of routine assessment and formulation of social networking use in understanding adolescents’ psychological difficulties. Furthermore, opportunities exist for clinicians to utilise social networks to broaden the range of mental health services offered to young people.

The critical review section provides further reflections on the process of undertaking the research, with a specific focus on reflexivity and managing the researcher-clinician role.