Selfies, Snapchat and Keeping Safe: How do looked after children engage online?

Young people spend an increasing amount of time online, especially in the current climate, as the global pandemic has moved much of our social lives into the virtual realm. Going online allows for socialisation and entertainment. However, for young people, especially vulnerable young people such as looked after children, it comes with risk; cyberbullying, trolling and harassment. While there is an abundance of international research devoted to online engagement and social media access, little attention has been paid to its impact on those who are looked after or care experienced.

This area of research is increasingly important. While we are aware that there is increased risk for looked after children, we know little about what their online lives are like or how they engage with their peers and family in online spaces.

This research, focusing on the online lives of looked after children, will be the first of its kind in Wales. This mixed-methods research study seeks to understand what the online lives of looked after children are like and whether they experience cyberbullying at a different rate than their peers. In addition, what risk factors they face and what advantages going online has for this population will also be explored.

Lead researcher: Dr Cindy Corliss