Digital stress within early adolescents’ friendships – A focus group study from Belgium

Debra De Groote, Joris Van Ouytsel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Social media and constant online connectivity create opportunities, but also new challenges for early adolescents, who are often still developing their social skills. This focus group study aims to explore young teenagers’ perceptions about how digital media is associated with digital stress within their friendships. We held nine focus group interviews, among 51 secondary school students (n = 24 male, 47 %; n = 27 female, 53 %) between the ages of 13 and 16 years old (M = 14.35 years; SD = 0.74) in the Dutch-speaking community of Belgium. The analysis revealed that many early adolescents do experience digital stress within their friendships. Our participants perceived a strong social expectation to provide prompt replies to messages. Technological features such as the ‘seen-function’ within messaging applications reinforce this expectation. We discuss the implications of our findings for media literacy education, relationship education and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101877
JournalTelematics and Informatics
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Digital stress
  • Fear of Missing Out
  • Friendship
  • Technostress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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