Not All that Is Solid Melts into Air? Care-Experienced Young People, Friendship and Relationships in the 'Digital Age'

Robin Sen (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)
    52 Downloads (Pure)


    The circumstances of those who are, or have been, in the care system may augment concern about their use of mobile phones and the internet, but little is specifically known about such use. Presenting findings from an exploratory study which investigated the experiences and views of six care leavers and four looked after children, this paper considers their social contact via mobile phones and the internet. Exploration of the study data is located alongside wider empirical findings around internet use and critical consideration of theoretical insights from the work of Bauman, Castells and LaMendola. Participants' reported use of digital media was not substantially different to that of their peer group: their core virtual networks had significant overlap with their core offline networks and social contact via digital media could provide welcome, if limited and individualised, social support. The most prominent difficulty arising from the use of these media was forms of verbal abuse by those known to the young people offline. While the centrality of digital technology within young people's lives influenced the way they communicated, underlying issues within their social relationships reflected greater similarity with a pre-digital age than has sometimes been suggested.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1059-1075
    Number of pages17
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Issue number4
    Early online date5 Feb 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


    • Looked after children
    • social media
    • the internet

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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