Facilitating social participation of children and young people with disabilities in rural and regional Australia using mobile and computer based technologies

Flinders University researched the effectiveness of social media training and online mentoring support to build the social networks of young people with disabilities in rural communities, as they tend to have reduced social networks compared to non-disabled peers, which can impact on their self-esteem.

The study used mixed methods. A survey provided an overview of how some young people with disabilities use the internet and social media. This informed a face to face intervention to provide training, support connectivity and accessibility needs, and develop personalised social media goals for participants. An online mentoring support program then helped participants to develop social media skills and reach personalised goals.

Findings from the research indicated that young people with disabilities tended to engage in passive, non-social activities, such as watching videos online or playing web-based games alone. Training in getting connected, using assistive technology, and support for social interactions and building social networks was beneficial for many young people with disabilities. The main benefit was in retaining connection or strengthening existing connections rather than in developing new relationships.

From the NSW Department of Family and Community Services website:

Related Publications

Raghavendra, P., Newman, L., Grace, E., & Wood, D. (2015). Enhancing social participation in young people with communication disabilities living in rural Australia: Outcomes of a home-based intervention for using social media. Disability & Rehabilitation, 37(17). 1576-1590, special issue. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1052578

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