Risks and Opportunities on the Internet: The Voices of Intellectually Disabled Teens'Parents
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
This presentation will explore the following research questions: How do the parents of intellectually disabled teens perceive opportunities and barriers to their children's use of the Internet? In what ways do parents act to lower the barriers and support opportunities? The bond between parents and the teen with intellectual disabilities is often very close and strong. Opportunities to develop self-determination and independence can therefore be restricted in relationships that are characterized by dependency upon others. In line with this, research has shown that family members (as well as caring staff) are often the primary supports for new technology used among intellectually disabled teens. However, parents many times experience ambivalence in handling both technical and moral issues that come with an increased use of the Internet. Parents tend to exhibit strong feelings of responsibility and feelings that are often manifested through different forms of control and/or restrictions, especially about private spheres like love and sexuality. The aim of this presentation is to highlight parents' perceptions and actions in relation to opportunities and barriers to the teen when using the Internet. The empirical material consists of interviews with the parents of intellectually challenged teens in Sweden. The transcribed interviews were analysed using a qualitative approach. A thematic analysis was used, which is a method of identifying, analysing and reporting patterns within data sets. The results show that parents' views are double-edged; on the one hand, they see great possibilities for their disabled children thanks to the Internet, but on the other hand, they are afraid that due to their disability, their adolescents are more sensitive to different contents and interactions on the Internet. Parents talk about the Internet as an opportunityfor their teenage child to meet someone and start an intimate relationship. The Internet asa potentially dangerous place is acknowledged, but looked upon as a risk worth taking when it comes to social experience. Due to their children's specific challenges, these parents see the Internet as offering them great opportunities; at the same time they are afraid theirteens could be more susceptible to various kind of content and interactions. Parents both want to encourage more Internet use and simultaneously encourage more time for face-toface interactions. They perceive the risk that their teen will end up alone, without an intimate partner as more serious than the risks of the Internet. This presentation will discuss barriers and opportunities in relation to a 'barrier-pyramid' and a 'supporting-ecological surrounding´, which brings into focus the parent's responsibility and support for teens, helping them to surmount barriers – not avoiding or ignoring them – but acting to manage them.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Internet, possibilities, intellectually disabled
Research subject SOCIAL SCIENCE, Social work
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-10766OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-10766DiVA: diva2:1078391
The European Association for Research on Adolescence (EARA) The 15th Biennial Conference in La Barrosa, Andalusia, Spain