Young people's digital interactions from a narrative identity perspective: Implications for mental health and wellbeing
SourcePsychological Inquiry, 31, 3, (2020), pp. 258-270
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
The current response article began by situating this journal volume in the current COVID-19 pandemic context which has driven young people into digital spaces for far longer periods of time than ever. Many scholars, policy makers, and the public at large are recognizing that these social digital spaces may be the only outlet by which youth and their families can remain safe (at least physically), while also participating in some important social outlets. We discussed the notion of hybrid reality and argued that young people themselves often do not experience their digital and physical contexts as functionally distinct, despite there being good scientific reasons for examining these contexts separately. We then considered whether or not digital activity (at least some) should be considered pathological or inherently unhealthy for young people. Like most of the commentators, we advocated for a nuanced approach and emphasized the importance of a functional, developmental lens. In the second half of our response, we turned to the narrative identity framework itself and clarified misconceptions about what we considered novel about our approach. We found it particularly useful to explain why self-determination theory can be regarded as a constituent of the identity development framework, but that it does not subsume it. We moved on to discuss how the new insights provided by the commentators could be synthesized and suggested directions for new research studies and methodologies. Finally, we ended with an examination of how a more elaborated narrative identity framework offers specific directions for designing new digital interventions for promoting young people’s mental health and wellbeing. It is our hope that the target article with its detailed articulation of the narrative identity framework, together with the thoughtful commentaries and this response, can together inform future research, practice, and policy relevant to digital activity and its impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
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