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Reading list Theories: health and wellbeing CO:RE at LSE Published: 15 Dec 2021

Health and wellbeing - a guided reading list with key texts

The concept of wellbeing is increasingly used to theorise children’s life outcomes, including in relation to the digital environment, in preference to happiness or quality of life or life satisfaction, and it relates to ideas of agency, resilience and flourishing. It is also closely related to its opposite – mental ill health, stress, anxiety and depression.

In a digital world, many concerns regarding risks relating to technology use, over-use or exclusion from use are seen as undermining a child’s wellbeing. Wellbeing is often conceptualised in terms of linked but independent dimensions – physical, emotional, psychological, social, and possibly also economic.

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Best, P., Manktelow, R. & Taylor, B. (2014). Online communication, social media and adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 27–36.

This article makes connections between social media and wellbeing, pointing to mixed effects on children. The benefits of using online technologies were reported as increased self-esteem, perceived social support, increased social capital, safe identity experimentation and increased opportunity for self-disclosure. Harmful effects were reported as increased exposure to harm, social isolation, depression and cyberbullying.

Bickham, D.S., Kavanaugh, J.R. & Rich, M. (2016). Media effects as health research: How pediatricians have changed the study of media and child development. Journal of Children and Media, 10(2), 191–199.

This article will help readers to better think of how the field of children and media has increasingly become more ‘polyphonic’, and to evaluate what other disciplines, especially health sciences, focus on when studying – broadly, children’s media use.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Council of Europe (no date). About Digital Citizenship. Council of Europe’s Digital Citizenship Education Project.

This project drew on expert insights and deliberation to generate a definition of digital citizenship that incorporates the three key elements of digital engagement, digital responsibility and digital participation brought about through the critical analysis and competent use of digital technology, underpinned by a concept of citizenship founded on respect for human rights and democratic culture.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ d’Haenens, L., Vandoninck, S. & Donoso, V. (2013). How to Cope and Build Online Resilience? EU Kids Online.

This book looks at the different coping strategies European children employ when bothered by an online experience (resilience is defined as ‘the ability to deal with negative experiences online or offline’). The authors also discuss coping strategies adopted by children when going through negative online experiences.

Freeman, J.L., Caldwell, P.H., Bennett, P.A. & Scott, K.M. (2018). How adolescents search for and appraise online health information: A systematic review. The Journal of Pediatrics, 195, 244–255.

This article reports on a systematic review on adolescents’ health-related information seeking and assessment of the sources they find. It argues that adolescents are aware of the varying quality of online health information, and strategies used for searching and appraising online health information differ in their sophistication.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Kalmus, V., Siibak, A. and Blinka, L. (2014). Internet and Child Well-being. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes & J.E. Korbin (eds) Handbook of Child Well-Being: Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective (pp. 2093−2133). Springer.

This chapter employs classical conceptualisations of the quality of life to define and structure the aspects of child wellbeing as related to the internet. In treating ‘wellbeing’ as a multidimensional construct, the authors combine Allardt’s (1993) classification of individual human needs (‘having’, ‘loving’ and ‘being’) with categorisations from a psychological approach and the UNICEF Index of Children’s Well-Being, as well as the societal aspect. The chapter discusses six components of wellbeing as related to the internet: material, physical, psychological, social, developmental and societal.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Livingstone, S., Mascheroni, G. & Staksrud, E. (2018). European research on children’s internet use: Assessing the past, anticipating the future. New Media & Society, 20(3), 1103–1122.

This article offers an explanation of the evolution of the EU Kids Online model, to show how, building on theory, evidence and policy developments over the past decade, the different factors that shape children’s wellbeing in a digital world interrelate and influence outcomes.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Lundy, L. (2014). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Child Well-Being. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes & J.E. Korbin (eds) Handbook of Child Well-Being: Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective (pp. 2439–2462). Springer.

Lundy considers the concept of child wellbeing through the disciplinary lens of human rights, with a particular focus on children’s rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Orben, A., Dienlin, T. & Przybylski, A.K. (2019). Social media’s enduring effect on adolescent life satisfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(21), 10226–10228.

This article looks at social media and adolescent life satisfaction. Based on large-scale representative panel data, social media use is not a strong predictor of life satisfaction across the adolescent population. Rather, social media effects were found to be nuanced, small at best, reciprocal over time, gender-specific, and contingent on analytic methods.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Rozgonjuk, D., Saal, K. & Täht, K. (2018). Problematic smartphone use, deep and surface approaches to learning, and social media use in lectures. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(1), 92.

This article considers problematic smartphone use (PSU), contributing to the ongoing debate on excessive engagement in smartphone use, and proposes and operationalises the concept of PSU. The study demonstrates the relationship between PSU, as well as the frequency of social media use and different approaches to learning.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Street, M. (2021). Theorising child well-being: Towards a framework for analysing early childhood education policy in England. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 19(2), 211–224.

Street proposes a theoretical framework for children’s wellbeing, and further elucidates its application as an analytic tool.

Swist, T. & Collin, P. (2017). Platforms, data and children’s rights: Introducing a ‘networked capability approach’. New Media & Society, 19(5), 671–685.

Swist and Collin develop an approach to children’s wellbeing that builds on Sen’s capability approach, and take it into the digital age. On the one hand, this means that wellbeing is conceptualised not as an individual property but in terms of the perspective and needs of individuals in context, and as part of a community. On the other hand, now that contexts and communities extend into digital networks, this has implications for how we understand wellbeing and its influences.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Sziron, M. & Hildt, E. (2018). Digital media, the right to an open future, and children 0–5. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2137.

There is a need to develop an adequate framework for digital media use and investigate the benefits, risks and implications of digital media use in very young children. This article contributes to this development, focusing on the social and ethical implications of digital media technology relating to children aged 0–5.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Thapar, A., Stewart-Brown, S. and Harold, G.T. (2021). What has happened to children’s wellbeing in the UK? Lancet Psychiatry, 8(1), 5–6.

This article explores the positive effects of green space on the wellbeing of children aged 4 from different ethnic groups. The findings suggest that satisfaction with green space, rather than the amount of space, has a positive effect on wellbeing. There are differences based on ethnicity.

Twigg, L., Duncan, C. & Weich, S. (2020). Is social media use associated with children’s well-being? Results from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Journal of Adolescence, 80, 73–83.

To explore social media and children’s wellbeing, children aged 10–15 from 7 waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study were examined (n = 7596). It was found that moderate use of social media does not play an important role in shaping children’s life satisfaction. Higher levels of use is associated with lower levels of happiness, especially for girls, but more research is needed.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Vallerand, R.J., Blanchard, C., Mageau, G., Koestner, R., Ratelle, C., Léonard, M., Gagné, M. & Marsolais, J. (2003). Les passions de l’âme: On obsessive and harmonious passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 756–767.

This article discusses internet addiction/dysfunctional use of the internet – an obsessive passion that is perceived as being out of control. This concept should be more clearly communicated because it is more often a symptom of a mental health or family problems and less often a centre of the problems.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Weinstein, E. (2018). The social media see-saw: Positive and negative influences on adolescents’ affective well-being. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3597–3623.

This article discusses social media and effects in US teens. The relationship between social technology usage and wellbeing was not found to be confined to an ‘either/or’ framework. Rather, the emotional see-saw of social media use appears to be weighted by both positive and negative influences.

image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/ Widyanto, L. & Griffiths, M. (2006). ‘Internet addiction’: A critical review. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 4, 31–51.

Widyanto and Griffiths explore excessive internet and smartphone use, mapping five main areas that are presented in empirical research on excessive use. They discuss the existence of ‘internet addiction’.

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Authors

Sonia-Livingstone.jpg
Team leader, CO:RE at LSE

Sonia Livingstone

Sonia Livingstone DPhil (Oxon), FBA, FBPS, FAcSS, FRSA, OBE, is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK). She currently directs the projects “Children’s Data and Privacy Online,” “Gobal Kids Online” (with UNICEF) and “Parenting for a Digital Future”, and she is Deputy Director of the UKRI-funded “Nurture Network.” Since founding the 33 countries EU Kids Online research network, Sonia has advised the UK government, European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OECD and UNICEF, among others, on children’s internet risks, safety, media literacy and rights in digital environments. She blogs at www.parenting.digital. She is leader of the CO:RE work package 5 on theory.

LSE_Mariya-Stoilova.jpg
Team member, CO:RE at LSE

Mariya Stoilova

Mariya Stoilova is a post-doctoral researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) working on children’s rights, online risks and opportunities, and well-being. She is member of the CO:RE work package 5 on theory.

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
CO:RE at LSE
Theories

The team at the LSE works on theory, providing a series of mutually cross-fertilising mechanisms to coordinate and support the theoretical dimension of research. The team identifies valuable theoretical concepts that offer multidisciplinary breadth and depth in understanding the long-term impact of digital media on children and youth, and coallates all in a comprehensive theories toolkit that provides guidance throughout the theory pathway, from (research) question to generating theory.

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