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How do parents/carers and teachers cope with disclosures of problematic or aggressive social media content sharing between young people

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

Project ID: S3 19

Alongside the beneficial aspects of social media, a proportion of young people’s  interactions may become problematic or aggressive. For example, sexting/non-consensual sharing of images (Barrense-Dias et al., 2019) and cyber bullying (Betts & Spencer, 2015) are linked to a range of negative outcomes including reduced self-esteem, distress, loneliness and self-harm (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015, Li, 2020). The EU Kids Online survey (Smahel et al., 2020) found that most children who experienced negative online interactions reported this to a parent or friend. In contrast, Ringrose et al. (2021) reported that young people received little support from parents or schools in relation to image-based abuse. Livingstone et al., (2017) highlighted the role of an adult as a source of guidance, and Mishna et al. (2020) indicated that cyber bullying was considered an equal responsibility of parents and teachers. The UK Department of Education (2017) requires schools and teachers to address any form of bullying”. (Department of Education, 2017). Yet little is known about how teachers or parents/carers deal and cope with occurrences of sexting and cyber bullying. Macaulay et al. (2020) argued that it is important to build teacher’s confidence in managing cyber bullying, and combined with parental lack of awareness and understanding, urge schools to provide more support to ensure consistency of knowledge (Macaulay, 2019). Similarly, parents/carers demonstrated difficulty in monitoring sexting thus felt that schools needed to educate children (Fix et al., 2021).

Since the geographical usage of social media across school and home spheres poses common challenge (Betts & Spencer, 2015), the proposed study will explore both parents’/carers’ and teachers’ views to understand how they cope with disclosures of children’s’ problematic social media. Three qualitative inter-related studies are proposed:

  1. Focus groups with teachers/support teachers to understand how they make sense of and cope with problematic social media instances.
  1. Joint interviews with parents of children who have been victim/perpetrator of online abuse to understand how they make sense of and cope problematic social media instances.
  2. Parents/carers and teachers’ collective collaboration on imagined scenarios about effective responses to a range of problematic social media usage through story completion tasks (Braun, Clarke & Gray (2017). All three studies will be analysed using social constructionist thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).

Interested applicants should demonstrate an understanding and interest in young people’s problematic online social behaviour and should have a background of conducting qualitative research.

Supervisory Team:

Sarah Seymour-Smith

Sarah Buglass

Eva Prikrylova

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

To make an application, please visit our studentship application page.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2023 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Application guidance can be found on our studentship application page.

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