University of Limerick
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A qualitative study of the perceived relevance of social media platforms in friendship formation for post primary students

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posted on 2021-01-26, 11:02 authored by Helen Pierce
The overall aim of this qualitative study is to explore the perceived relevance of social media platforms on the friendships of adolescents. In particular, the study focuses on the lived experiences of a sample of post primary students and their perceptions of the relevance of social media in their everyday lives. There has been much research conducted to date on the merits and shortcomings of social media and the effect it has on the lives of adolescents (Alzahrani and Bach 2014; Boyd and Ellison 2008; Kennedy and Lynch 2016; Lynch 2014; Van Dijck 2013; Velten and Arif 2016). The current research in this area predominantly represents the opinions of developmental psychologists and guidance counsellors. When the views of adolescents are considered the research tends towards the positive attributes and the dangers associated with the ever-changing face of the smart phones. The researcher considered there to be a gap for such a study that portrays the voice of the adolescent and their opinion on how social media platforms influence their friendships. During their time in post-primary education adolescents experience developmental stages for which they require certain supports including that of the guidance counselling services. The use of social media platforms is continuously increasing, therefore making the subject matter very pertinent. Further study of the effect it has on our adolescent students allows for a deeper understanding and therefore allows provision of appropriate guidance for them. This study employed an interpretive paradigm using focus groups to gather information. It obtained the perceptions of 19 adolescent post-primary school students and their experience of friendship formation throughout their adolescence. In order to interpret the collected data the researcher utilised a thematic approach to identify, analyse and uncover thematic patterns within (Braun & Clarke 2006). The findings identify that social media platforms often serve to strengthen friendship formations. However, the findings also highlight how adolescents experience pressure to be constantly connected, this purportedly has implications for students both in their homes and at school. It also impacts on the school environment as issues which arise online often spill over into school life which has connotations for the available resources within a school. To conclude several recommendations are put forward to inform policy, practice and further research.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Hearne, Lucy





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