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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2003 Apr;6(2):161-70.

The process of sharing social support in cyberspace.

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Centre for Online Health, University of Queensland, Australia.


Mutual support is an interactional communication process. Taking an interactional approach to support requires group participants be viewed not only as targets and recipients but also as sources and providers of various types of support. An analysis was performed on the interactions of a group listserve and model of online interactional support. The aim was to explore the communication process children follow. The analysis revealed self-disclosure was used in the support group in three distinct ways. Its function for the support recipient is to initiate a transactional relationship with another member for the purpose of attracting social support through the open expression of concerns and frustrations. It is then used by the support provider to demonstrate that coping is possible for the recipient through the reciprocal self-disclosure of similar concerns and situations with which the member has successfully dealt. The third use of self-disclosure was to share reciprocal social companionship relationships.

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