Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Waiting to Connect: In Pursuit of Belongingness and Connectedness Needs for Girls through Social Network Sites
by Sharp, Donna Coplon, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 2020, 207; 27837279
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study explored how young women pursue belongingness and connectedness needs through their use of social network sites and the other meanings they give to their activities. The study involved multiple individual interviews with 35 diverse participants ages 13 through 18. Unlike most research on girls that focuses on White girls, 40% of the participants were girls of color. This research examines girls’ experiences using social media in their own words. Using inductive analysis and feminist critical theory, I first analyzed the data individually and then across cases. I sought meaning in the girls’ own words and understandings that “give voice” to people “outside mainstream research,” like girls (Patton, 2002, p. 98). The findings were grouped into 3 categories: how social media fosters connection and belonging needs; the other personal meanings involved in girls’ social media activities; and the ways social media interfered with belongingness and connection. First, I found that girls exercised their agency in connecting with their friends throughout the day; Instagram and Snapchat were particular favorites. Second, older girls used social media to explore social and political issues, experience freedom and all girls processed concerns about appearance and body image. Some girls believed that social media affected their mood and often had a positive effect on their lives, but they believed they should spend less time on social media. Third, social media at times disrupted girls’ social connections through online drama, bullying, and sexual images, or by avoiding face-to-face interaction. The research suggests the importance of better understanding girls’ online activities from their perspectives for parents and educators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bailey, Lucy E.
Commitee: Vogler, Jane, Montgomery, Diane, Mix, Tamara
School: Oklahoma State University
Department: Educational Psychology
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Secondary education, Social research, Womens studies
Keywords: Belonging, Connection, Girls, Social media
Publication Number: 27837279
ISBN: 9798664747478
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