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Social media, online help-seeking and mental well-being : the experiences of male school children in Northern Ireland

The aim of this research was to investigate the impact of social media technology -(SMT) on the mental well-being of adolescent males in Northern Ireland (NI). This involved an examination of how SMT is being used by adolescent males to create and maintain social networks online as well as how SMT has contributed to the growing phenomenon of on line help-seeking. While this area is one of growing academic interest, most of the evidence to date has been generated from adult populations with pre-established offline social networks. Thus, little is known of the impact of online social networking on younger generations. Further to this, current global concerns regarding the mental well-being of young males have called for fresh approaches to health and social care service delivery. Consequently, this project investigated the efficacy of online services by examining the current impact of online help-seeking behaviours on the mental well-being of adolescent males. The study used a two-phased mixed-methods approach within seven post-primary schools in NI. Survey questionnaires were administered to 527 adolescent males (Phase One) with eight follow-up focus group discussions (n= 56) taking place three months later (Phase Two). Phase One used validated instruments measuring mental well-being and self-efficacy, with supplementary sections on social media habits and online help-seeking behaviours. Phase Two explored key issues identified during Phase One to allow a more in-depth exploration of these themes. The findings suggested that the use of SMT among this population is set to continue. Policy makers could do well to consider the growing prominence of online social networking and produce targeted programmes to educate young people on the benefits and pitfalls of building large online 'friend' networks. Health an-d social care professionals need to recognise this generational shift to help-seeking online, in terms of providing and commissioning interpersonal helping via social media.
Date January 2014
CreatorsBest, Paul
PublisherUlster University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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