Why aren't you on Facebook? Patterns and experiences of using the Internet among young people with physical disabilities
Newman, Lareen Ann
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There has been an explosive growth in the use of the Internet as a social networking tool and as a major venue for leisure and recreation among children and young people. It is not known whether children with disabilities are using the new medium for similar purposes. The aim of this project was to investigate the current patterns and frequency of Internet use and its impact, facilitators and barriers to use by children and young people with physical disabilities. Fifteen participants with physical disabilities with a mean age of 14.6 years were interviewed exploring the above issues. The research found the young people who participated in this study used the Internet for a variety of purposes and friends played a key role in teaching them Internet skills as well as interacting with them online. Family resources and the computer/Internet literacy skills of parents were significant factors influencing usage. The findings suggest the need for further research involving a larger cohort of children and young people with varying abilities, especially those who are currently not using the Internet, to explore reasons for not using the Internet, and to identify the supports required to increase access and participation.