Jennifer A. Schonberg, Psy.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha B. Strauss, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Kate Evarts Rice, PsyD, Committee Member
  • David Arbeitman, PhD, Committee Member


social networking sites, social media, digital native, adolescence, development, empathy, rupture, repair, female friendships

Document Type


Publication Date



Through qualitative methodology, this dissertation aimed to explore adolescent girls’ use of social networking sites (SNS) and the impact these sites could be having on girls’ development of empathy and their ability to address conflict in their friendships. The topic is introduced by outlining the relevant statistics and through highlighting some of the negative and positive influences of SNS use on adolescent female life. Carol Gilligan’s theory of moral development is explained and used to frame the research questions for this phenomenological research study. Section One of this dissertation reviews the current literature on this topic, including how social media use is impacting the sexual, emotional, and psychological heath of adolescent girls. In addition, this chapter outlines how certain developmental processes in adolescence such as acquiring empathy and socializing intersect with SNS in this digital age. The concepts of rupture and repair are explained as they relate to female aggression during the teenage years. The importance of empathy development and the potential impacts of SNS on brain functioning are discussed. Section Two of this dissertation outlines the qualitative methodology: Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Section Two includes a description of the study participants, interview process, procedures, data analysis and outlines the potential ethical concerns associated with this project. Section Three reports on the findings of the study, including a description of the demographic data and a presentation of clusters and themes. Section Four presents the results in detail and reports on the implications for clinical practice, limitations of this study, future directions for research, and researcher reflections.


Jennifer A. Schonberg

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-2271-8908