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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the influence of offline and online social support on lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths' subjective well-being Dadgar, Kyle


The growing popularity of the Internet has significantly impacted how youth socialize. For example, social networking websites have become established as “social tools” that facilitate peer relations. Previous research has examined the extent to which those who have a relatively large number of friends in-person (i.e., high offline support) versus those who have fewer friends (i.e., low offline support) are differentially impacted by social networking opportunities. According to recent findings, those with higher offline support use online communicative tools to enhance their existing relationships (i.e., the Rich Get Richer hypothesis). However, research has not examined the possibility that youth who are marginalized, such as those who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB), use the Internet to enhance their social connectedness, thus compensating for lower levels of offline support (i.e., Social Compensation Theory). The current study examined whether online support moderated the relationship between offline support and well-being differentially for heterosexual and LGB-identifying youth. Findings indicated that overall, offline support was associated with greater ratings of well-being while online support was associated with lower ratings of well-being. Furthermore, it was found that offline support was most strongly associated with well-being for LGB-identifying youth who were highly active online. The results of this study suggest that online support does not compensate for offline support for either heterosexual or LGB-identifying youth. These findings point to the urgency of finding alternative ways to promote in-person support networks for LGB-identifying youth.

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