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Investigating the use of social media as a methodological communications technology tool for researching cyber bullying: An assessment of feasibility and acceptability among young people of an innovative research method

This research project investigates the feasibility and acceptability among young people of social media as a methodological communications technology tool to investigate cyber bullying. This will enable optimal efficiency of research processes whilst ensuring that researchers continue to work alongside young people as partners in the research process, with a valued and respected youth ‘voice’. Findings from stakeholder consultations and student focus groups will determine how communications driven social media can be used appropriately and effectively for research in adolescent populations.

Therefore, this study aims to investigate further opportunities for the CHPRC to streamline research methods to increase efficiency and outputs, and enabling the CHPRC's research methods to become more relevant to the modern, digital world, which is an applicable issue, given the research focus on young people's online interactions. The project will use focus groups to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of social media research methods among young people. This formative research has as its primary outcome the development of a framework to guide the use of social media as an active and passive research tool in adolescent populations. This research will also provide formative data to support the further development of technological systems, websites and applications to provide more effective means of collecting data from young people.

The outcomes of this research will impact on whether and how researchers collect data from young people, specifically whether there is a continuing transition from offline to online forms of research. This innovative communications research strategy has the potential to change the dynamics of market research and capacity to actively involve a young population cohort. Whilst the outcomes of this research have particular implications in the field of cyber bullying, the results of this study have the potential to influence the way research is conducted in relation to a wide range of adolescent health harms. Specifically, this research seeks to determine how social media can be used as a research tool in an effective way that is respectful of and sensitive to the needs and views of young people.

Promoting positive and appropriate uses of technology is crucial in addressing cyber bullying, and partnerships between researchers and the technology industry are beneficial to achieving this aim. This framework developed as a result of this formative project can ultimately be utilised by Avaya (in consultation with the CHPRC and ECU) as an appropriate and effective tool to gain a better understanding of the needs and expectations of their current adolescent consumer base, as well as their future consumer base as adolescents become young adults attending university. Such data collected from adolescents’ use of social media will also inform and enhance Avaya’s best practice and product development to ensure a safe and negotiable Web 2.0. As young people throughout their schooling learn to use technology positively for social interaction, and protect themselves from online harm, this knowledge will accompany young people as they enter the university setting and thus have important implications for the future student population at ECU. Through the partnership of Avaya with ECU and the CHPRC, this formative research can lead to future larger-scale studies focussing on the collaborative development of technological systems, websites and applications to provide more effective means of collecting data from young people.

Project Duration

2012-2013

Funding Body

Avaya

For further information about this project please contact Patricia Cardoso on p.cardoso@ecu.edu.au


Researchers

Ms Helen Monks
Ms Patricia Cardoso
Ms Sarah Falconer
Dr Laura Thomas
Associate Professor Stacey Waters

Staff

Ms Patricia Cardoso
Ms Helen Monks

Child Health Promotion Research Centre
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