“I’m a mother, but I’m also a facilitator in her every-day life”: Parents’ voices about barriers and support for internet participation among young people with intellectual disabilities
In general, the Internet is an arena where parents (as well as other adults) have limited insight and possibilities to support the young person. However, several studies indicate that parents are one of the most important facilitators in the every-day life of young persons with intellectual disabilities. Therefore, the aim of the current article is to highlight parents’ perceptions and actions in relation to opportunities and barriers for these young people when using the Internet. The empirical material consists of interviews with 22 parents of intellectually challenged young people in Sweden. The transcribed interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis, which is a method of identifying, analysing and reporting patterns within data sets. The results show that parents’ views are double-edged; on the one hand, they see great possibilities for their children, thanks to the Internet, but on the other hand, they are afraid that due to their disability, their children are more sensitive to different contents and interactions on the Internet. Furthermore, the results indicate that parents believe that the Internet can facilitate participation in social life, but that it precludes young people with intellectual disabilities from being part of society in general when it comes to community functions and services. This article will discuss barriers and support in relation to the individual and her or his support system, which brings into focus the parent’s responsibility and support for young people, helping them to surmount barriers – instead of avoiding or ignoring them – and find ways to take action to do so.
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