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Online social connections and Internet use among people with intellectual disabilities in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic

Caton, Sue ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9013-8721, Hatton, Chris, Gillooly, Amanda, Oloidi, Edward, Clarke, Libby, Bradshaw, Jill, Flynn, Samantha, Taggart, Laurence, Mulhall, Peter, Jahoda, Andrew, Maguire, Roseann, Marriott, Anna, Todd, Stuart, Abbott, David, Beyer, Stephen, Gore, Nick, Heslop, Pauline, Scior, Katrina and Hastings, Richard P (2022) Online social connections and Internet use among people with intellectual disabilities in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Media and Society. ISSN 1461-4448

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Abstract

Having a disability, in particular, an intellectual disability, is associated with Internet non-use. This article explores how people with intellectual disabilities used the Internet across the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April to May 2021, 571 adults with intellectual disabilities were interviewed. Participants most commonly used the Internet for being with family and friends, social media or doing online activities with other people. People who lived with family were the most likely to use social media; people who lived with other people with intellectual disabilities were the least likely. People who self-reported as not lonely were more likely to use the Internet for online activities with others and play video games with others. Social connections were identified as the best thing about the Internet. Many participants chose not to identify a worst thing about Internet use, while others reported issues with technology, online harm and threats to well-being.

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