Coping with Stressful Online Experiences in Adolescence
Some children and adolescents may experience stressful situations online. In the context of her dissertation project, Kira Thiel investigates how adolescents deal with such online experiences and which coping strategies they use.
The digital world harbours various risks for young users, such as cyberbullying, violent, pornographic or extremist content, hate speech, fake news, and data theft etc. Not all of them can be avoided without curtailing their right to participation. Consequently, it is inevitable that adolescents will have experiences when using the internet that evokes negative emotions and may even have long-term effects on their well-being.
Thus, in addition to managing online risks preventively, young people also need skills to cope with such experiences reactively. According to psychological appraisal theories, if coping is successful or not depends to a large extent on which coping strategies they use. The notion of coping refers to both concrete actions and cognitive efforts aimed at dealing with a situation perceived as stressful or the associated emotions. Within this framework, individual coping is understood as a dynamic process in which – also depending on personal characteristics, situational factors and resources – different strategies are used and combined.
Based on these considerations, the dissertation project takes a look at individual online experiences and the subsequent coping efforts as a processual procedure. What do stressful online experiences look like? How do adolescents deal with them? What exactly do they do, or whom do they turn to? And which coping strategies are perceived as helpful?
Qualitative interviews will be used to examine stressful online experiences in more detail – from the situational factors (duration, subjectively perceived controllability, resources) to emotional reactions and coping strategies. The aim is to better understand the individual coping process of adolescents in dealing with various online-based stressors and contribute to answering how it can be possible to strengthen them so that they can successfully cope with stressful online experiences.
Research programme: RP3 - Knowledge for the Media Society