Exploring the Potential of Social Media Platforms as Data Collection Methods for Accessing and Understanding Experiences of Youth with Disabilities: A Narrative Review

Meaghan Walker, Gillian Alison King, Laura R. Hartman


Purpose: Social media (SM) is a critical component of youth culture, and may provide a useful platform for exploring young people’s authentic voices. This narrative review considers how researchers are exploring the experiences of youth with disabilities using SM.  

Methods: Five health and social science databases were searched using terms related to ‘social media’ and ‘data collection’. Articles were reviewed for relevancy. Narrative analysis was undertaken.

Results: Searches returned 1524 results, of which 15 articles were included. SM-based data collection methods fell into three categories: 1) observational; 2) interactive; and 3) combined online/offline, each offering unique advantages to data collection. Literature suggests that SM can be used to effectively explore self-care, coping and social experiences of youth with health conditions, however youth with disabilities were notably absent from all three categories.

Conclusion: As a prominent component of youth culture, researchers have turned to SM-based data collection methods to understand youths’ real-world experiences. It is imperative, however, that the voices of youth with varied abilities and backgrounds be included in the conversation. 


Social Media, data collection, youth, social engagement

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