Qualitative Study: Social Media Use & Perceptions Among 10-13 Year Olds


As part of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study, two semi-structured focus groups (each consisting of 25 10-13 year olds) were convened. Their facilitated discussions covered the following topics: social media terminology and identification; functions and perspectives on media platforms; followers, friends, and connections; security and passwords; and overall perceptions about social media. Participants identified YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat as their most frequently used social media platforms. Music sharing, messaging, and video chatting platforms also were popular. Motivations for social media use included entertainment, connective with friends, and posting content. YouTube activity was incorporated into uses of other platforms. Study subjects indicated the acceptability of smaller online audiences for the sake of greater online privacy. They also were concerned about cyberstalking, and expressed self-consciousness about their social media posts and likes. Adopting language and referencing platforms that are salient to youth during assessments may make those assessments more accurate, and may allow for the identification of constructs of interest that may facilitate more effective interventions.