University of Malta
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Social media is a central component in the lives of many young people, and provides innovative potential to conduct research among this population. Ethical issues around online research have been subject to much debate, yet young people have seldom been consulted to provide a youth perspective and voice. Eight (8) focus groups involving 48 Grade 9 Western Australian secondary school students aged 13-14 years were held in 2012, to investigate how young people perceive the feasibility and acceptability of social media when used as a research tool to investigate various issues relevant to their mental health and wellbeing. Whilst young people recognise many benefits of researchers using social media in this way, such as its relevance, innovation and accessibility, there were salient issues of privacy, consent, and practicality that require careful negotiation. There is a need for continued exploration and scientific debate of the moral and ethical implications of using social media for research, to help ensure this is employed in an appropriate and effective way that is respectful of and sensitive to the needs and views of young people.
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