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Continuing bonds in a virtual world: the use of Facebook in adolescent grief




James, Libba, author
Kees, Nathalie, advisor
Banning, James, committee member
Kuk, Linda, committee member
McQuiddy, Susan, committee member

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The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the adolescent grief experience when it is being lived out through the online social media site, Facebook. The primary research question, "What is the grief experience like for adolescents who use Facebook for grief support by communicating with the deceased and with other grieving individuals?" guided the Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Eight high school students agreed to participate in this study. Each adolescent had experienced the death of a peer within the previous two years and acknowledged that they used Facebook as a means of support during their grief. Participants took part in two interview sessions with the researcher. The researcher used interpretive phenomenological analysis to interpret the data. After the final phase of analysis, five major themes emerged from the text: remembering the dead, not forgetting the dead, self-expression of grief, connecting with the living, and continuing bonds with the dead. These themes led to results that support the use of online social media in adolescent grief. Understanding the importance of this phenomenon is critical for any person who works as helping professional with adolescents. Because of the rapid developments occurring daily in technology and in online social media, future research possibilities could be endless.


2014 Summer.

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