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The digital family in a traditional society: Attitudes of Saudi young people and parents towards the use of social media in family communication

Alqahtani, Easa 2020. The digital family in a traditional society: Attitudes of Saudi young people and parents towards the use of social media in family communication. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines the attitudes and perceptions of the Saudi family towards the use of social networks in family communication. Specifically, it takes into account whether there are any perceived changes in family relations in Saudi Arabia, and if so, can this be traced back to the relatively recent shift to allow wider access to the Internet and the proliferation of social media applications. With the increasing growth of social media platforms, numerous questions have arisen concerning people's perceptions. This has been widely observed among the young Saudi and parents whose attitude toward the social media has varied. This study's focus was to provide an in-depth investigation of the Saudi young and parents' attitude towards increasing social media use for communication within the family set up. The inclusion of both the young and parents make the study very significant because it investigates the increased use of social media for communications and their perceptions. The research question that guided the entire research was based on how social media has impacted family communication leading to the different attitudes exhibited by the young and parents. The study used a multi-stage research design that takes the form of surveys and in-depth interviews. During the survey process, 818 participants were given an opportunity to express their opinions in the survey distributed to them. Of the 818 participants, there are 103 parents, and 515 young Saudis. Besides, in the interviews, 15 parents and 15 young people were interviewed. By applying the research design, the study managed to capture all the necessary data needed to show the respondents' perception of social media's rising rate as a form of communication. This was enhanced by utilizing the descriptive approach that helped to include and analyse all the participants' data. The results show that for four in five of the young people, their attitudes were more positive towards the use of social media in family communication, and indeed, most participants felt that their attitudes towards the use of social networks in family communication had become more positive. In addition, most participants showed they had a positive experience in using social media applications, such as WhatsApp and Twitter, as these platforms offer useful information on several issues, including family building, children’s needs, and parenting techniques. The findings show that the parents’ purpose of using social media involved networking, education, and news reception. They used WhatsApp for corresponding with family and friends, Twitter for news, and YouTube for educational purposes. The young people thought that WhatsApp provided an avenue for bonding through the creation of family groups. It also gave the young people a freedom of expression that had been hard to achieve with previous forms of communication. These findings indicate that the more frequent utilisation of WhatsApp and other social media platforms by parents and young people confirms that social media gives Saudis the opportunity to reinforce bonds with their families.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 October 2021
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 15:14

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