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Particip@tion on Internet?: Young people with intellectual disabilities and identification processes on Internet
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Social Work and Social Pedagogy. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6202-4196
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Psychology, Pedagogy and Sociology. (BUV)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3328-6538
2018 (English)In: 23rd annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY23),June 26 to 28, 2018, Hotel Hilton LacLeamy in Gatineau, Canada.: Complete program, 2018, p. 42-43Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Although research on young people's identification processes on the Internet is a growing field, there are few studies that illustrate conditions for young people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Previous studies have shown that young people with ID are worried about being marginalized, and that many in fact are lonelier than other young people. Internet and social networking sites might be of vital importance as a space for exploring alternative and less stigmatized identities. Scandinavian research has shown that a new generation of young people with ID is emerging who have developed somewhat new ways of relating to issues of participation and identity. Mainly these strategies concern the possibilities of expressing alternative self-presentations, which are not necessarily connected to a specific functional impairment or a certain welfare institutional belonging (e.g., special need student or care user). One such strategy can concern attempts to, in an online setting, present a preferred identity (e.g. that of a hockey fan or a musician), which may differ from their disabled identity, which would be apparent in an offline setting. A Swedish research project—Particip@tion on Internet? Pupils with intellectual disabilities and identification processes on Internet—aims to describe and analyse how young people (age 16-20) with a mild ID interacts and participate on the Internet. More precisely, drawing upon the perspectives of young people with ID, parents and school staff, we want to study self-presentations, social relations and participation within different kinds of Internet communities. Therefore, the goal of the project is to generate knowledge concerning these complex processes, which could be useful for the nearest surrounding of adults in order to support and help young people with ID with their Internet use.

The project comprises qualitative interviews with young people with ID (n=27), parents of young people with ID (n=22) and professionals in special schools (n=17). The transcribed interviews were analyzed, using a thematic content analysis. A prominent finding in the study concerned the young informants being well aware of both risks and opportunities using Internet and Social Networking Sites. Consequently, the more they interacted with non-disabled peers, the more they experienced negative consequences of Internet use. One conclusion was that these circumstances rather lead to downsizing than upsizing Internet use, and as prolongation, less participation on Social Networking Sites. Although the Internet can be a 'free-zone' where the young person can develop social bonds and construct their identity away from adult oversight, parents and professionals are highly present. Young people mostly feel confident but also in no need of support. Professionals and parents do consider the Internet an arena for positive opportunities, but also with risks. The professionals seemed to be more worried about the risks than the parents who state that the opportunities outweigh the disadvantages. For parents, the real risk is described as the risk of loneliness and social isolation. That parents consider the Internet to be an arena for relationships is an interesting change compared to previous research where both parents and professionals are worried about the risks of abuse etc. Overall, the young people with ID are described as a more heterogeneous group by both parents and professionals compared to previous research. Considering young people's need for autonomy, it is of great importance that parents and professionals balance their level of support depending on the needs of the young person. We recommend that professional practitioners reflect upon the ways that support can be arranged in order to empower young people with ID to participate on the Internet. The experiences of the informants are discussed in a conceptual framework of social identity, participation, sexuality and emancipation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. p. 42-43
Keywords [sv]
Psykologi, internet, ungdomar
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Psychology; Child and Youth studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13619OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13619DiVA, id: diva2:1292273
Conference
23rd annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY23),June 26 to 28, 2018, Hotel Hilton LacLeamy in Gatineau, Canada.
Available from: 2019-02-27 Created: 2019-02-27 Last updated: 2019-02-27Bibliographically approved

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Molin, MartinSorbring, Emma

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