Go to main content

An Exploration into the Use of Social Media Technology in Adolescents who School Refuse

27 November 2019

Author: Jemma Williams - Doctorate in Educational Psychology (DEdPsy), Cardiff University, 2019


Despite school refusal being a widely researched area; outcomes for young people affected by school refusal remain poor and the voice of the child continues to remain absent from the evidence base (Baker & Bishop, 2015).

Due to the research on school refusal focusing mainly on treatment (Elliot & Pace, 2019), there is little information which explores what areas impact school refusal behaviour. Research often fails to address the externalised social factors which may be reinforcing the school refusal behaviour.

SMT now plays a large part of life, with the majority of people using some form of SMT (Battisby, 2018). It is still unclear what effect this is having on peoples mental health with conflicting research often found (Twenge et al, 2018; Heffer et al, 2019).

Research often discovers SMT links with mental health (Twenge et al, 2018) and socialising (Beyens et al, 2016).

These links are also, often, observed within the ABSR literature (Costi, 2003; Havik et al, 2015), one might assume that SMT can impact on the ABSR experience; there is currently no research which explores this further.

This research aimed to provide an insight into the experience of anxiety based school refusal and how they viewed social media technology during this time.

Eight participants were interviewed in total via a semi-structured interview process; 4 Pupil participants and 4 Staff participant from an anxious and phobic specialist school provision.

Data was analysed using the process of Interpretative Phonological Analysis (Smith, Flower and Larkin, 2009).

Results for the pupil group identified for super-ordinate themes; school experience, the self, social connection, Impacts of SMT use.

Results of the staff group identified; the school refuser experience, generational changes, SMT impacts on social connections, effects of SMT on young people and online gaming.

Implications for educational psychologists and professionals are considered alongside future direction for further study. 

Link to full paper coming soon.


Top of page