The Other Side of the Screen: The Impact of Perspective-Taking on Adolescents’ Online Communication
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While socially interactive technologies provide multiple avenues for positive communication between peers, adolescents can fall victim to harmful online peer interactions, with such interactions negatively impacting their well-being. Although there is information available about social media use in adolescent populations generally, there is little empirical evidence investigating how adolescents’ characteristics are related to their communicative choices on social media. Addressing a gap in the literature, this work examines experimental manipulations of context (e.g., prompts of perspective-taking) and individual differences in socio-cognitive skills as they relate to adolescents’ online communicative choices. 12- to 15-year-old participants (N = 78) viewed pictures of other adolescents, on a simulated social media app similar to Snapchat, and chose between pre-written aggressive or prosocial comments to send to a recipient under conditions that varied in the degree to which perspective-taking was cued. When perspective-taking was cued, participants chose more prosocial comments to send to a recipient compared to when participants were permitted to choose a comment immediately after viewing another adolescent’s picture. Consistent with the literature examining in-person communication, girls made more prosocial choices on the social media app than boys. The results suggest that the individual characteristics of youth (e.g., social media use, mood, affective empathy) are associated with their communicative choices online. Although tentative, findings from this work provide new insights into the ways in which adolescents navigate their complex, and increasingly online, communicative interactions.
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Celina Bowman-Smith (2020). The Other Side of the Screen: The Impact of Perspective-Taking on Adolescents’ Online Communication. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16175