The other side of the screen: The impact of perspective-taking on adolescents’ online communication
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Introduction: In recent decades, adolescents’ interactions with peers have increasingly transitioned online. While socially interactive technologies provide multiple avenues for positive communication between peers, adolescents may experience harmful online peer interactions, with such interactions negatively impacting their well-being. A paucity of work exists investigating how adolescents’ characteristics are related to their communicative choices on social media and if such choices can be influenced by cues to consider a recipient. Addressing this gap, this work examines experimental manipulations of perspective-taking and individual differences in sociocognitive skills as they relate to adolescents’ communicative choices online. Method: Within individual sessions, 12- to 15-year-old Canadian participants (N = 72, 36 girls) 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 three conditions: a perspective-taking cue, a time-delay, no delay. Participants also completed selfreport questionnaires assessing emotion regulation and empathy. Results: Following perspective-taking cues, participants chose more prosocial comments to send compared to when participants were permitted to choose a comment immediately after viewing another adolescent’s picture, while controlling for a brief time-delay. Adolescents’ individual characteristics (i.e., Social Media Use, State Mood, Affective Empathy, Gender) were associated with their communicative choices online. Conclusions: Findings from this work provide new insight into the ways adolescents navigate their complex and increasingly online peer interactions. Further, the results suggest that adolescents’ social media communication is malleable with a brief perspective-taking cue to consider a recipient.
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Celina K. Bowman-Smith, Linda Sosa Hernandez, Elizabeth S. Nilsen (2021). The other side of the screen: The impact of perspective-taking on adolescents’ online communication. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17885
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