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Online social participation, social capital and literacy of adolescents with hearing loss: A pilot study

C. L. Wong, T. Y. C. Ching, J. Whitfield, J. Duncan,

Academic Literature


The internet and social media have fast become an everyday aspect of adolescents’ lives. Online participation may increase social capital and be particularly beneficial for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH), as it provides an alternative method to communicate, interact with others and access information. However, reduced levels of literacy may be a barrier to participate and benefit from online activities. This pilot study aimed to assess the feasibility of using an online survey to measure the online social habits, social capital, and literacy in DHH adolescents; and explore the relationship between these variables. An online questionnaire encompassing measures of internet, social media usage, bonding and bridging social capital in online/offline settings, and literacy was completed by twenty-nine Australian DHH adolescents (aged 11-18). The results showed that an online survey method is feasible to collect data on online participation and social capital, but not reliable for literacy outcomes. The DHH adolescents reported very high use of the internet. A positive relationship was found between internet use and online bridging social capital suggesting that the internet assists DHH teenagers to expand worldviews and express their opinions. In contrast, no relationship was found with internet use and bonding social capital which indicates the internet still cannot be a substitute for face-toface interactions for social support. Due to the small sample size and unreliability of self-report literacy scores, we were unable to determine any association between social capital and literacy. However, this pilot informs and provides recommendations for future research examining the relationship between social media use, social capital, and literacy. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Deafness and Education International

Domain/s: Social relationships

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