¹Dept. of Educational & Counseling Psychology, and Special Education
University of British Columbia

²Department of Psychology
University of Carleton Ottawa, Ontario

Adolescent Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19: A Reflexive Thematic Analysis of Social Connectedness and Technology Use

The present explored the meaning of social connectedness and mental health concerns as experienced among diverse adolescents in secondary schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data was collected in the Fall of 2022 from three schools in British Columbia, Canada, via CyberTeens Wave 3 online survey using open-ended text response questions about adolescents’ feelings of social connection in the time of COVID-19. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to explore open-ended text response qualitative data related to peers, school connectedness and technology use among adolescents. Youth who felt negative feelings appeared to struggle to conform to peer groups’ norms around technology use, whether that use was commonplace or whether peer group norms centred around in-person connections or a mix of both. Racialized youth did not appear to possess a unique experience of COVID-19 and peer connectedness; experiences were highly individual. By administering the survey to over 3000 youth, we were able to show that ‘thin’ survey responses can yield incredibly rich data yielding to conceptual analyses.

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