Cecily Pepper began the Horizon CDT doctoral programme in October 2019 after completing a degree in Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Leicester. Cecily has recently gone back to her secondary school to give an inspirational talk on higher education, university life and her PhD research project.
In collaboration with The Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice at the University of Sussex, Cecily’s research aims to explore the impact of social media platforms on the mental well-being of looked after young people. In particular, Cecily’s research focusses on the mental aspects of the self, including self-esteem, self-worth and identity. Due to looked-after young people being highly vulnerable to developing mental health issues, and with such frequent use of social media within the younger generation, it is extremely important to explore the impact of social media (both positive and negative!).
The research project is exploring these issues by using in-depth interviews with both young people and frontline social care professionals, and critical incident technique combined with think aloud protocol with young people. The think aloud method stems from the human computer interaction field and, in this case, aims to explore which specific features of social media platforms are affecting emotional wellbeing. Therefore, the project is multidisciplinary in nature and includes aspects from psychology, social care and computer science and communication fields.
Potential implications of the research include resources and guidelines for education and awareness purposes, advice for policy makers and social media designers, and advice and tools that young people can utilise to make social media a positive emotional experience.