Travel Grants: Shannon Ward’s Reflection

“’Likes’ Can Be Deceiving: Adolescents’ Manipulative Attempts to Gain Attention on Social Networking Sites and Parental Awareness
Presented at Brock University’s Development Conference, May 3-4, 2018

The Development Conference was an incredible experience for me.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe I was afraid to go, considering the way things turned out!  I went to the conference with the goal of sharing our research with others (and to try not to disappoint too many people by being unable to answer their questions), and I left with the satisfaction of knowing that I had answered every question fired at me, as well as a renewed sense of excitement about our research and its potential.  Several people had come to the conference specifically to see our poster, to hear what I had to say, and to share their knowledge on the subject with me.  It was an incredible feeling, to realize that I wasn’t just someone tucked in the corner of the room that no one really noticed – people came to see me.  I learned a lot of different adolescent deceptive like-seeking behaviours from other researchers in the field, behaviours we hadn’t considered and I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.  It was amazing to hear so many different perspectives and what other researchers in the same field were doing.  I even made a few friends while I was there, which was more than I expected!

Aside from the poster session, I was able to attend a talk.  It was recommended that I see Dr. Debra Pepler so I went to her talk, however there were several other speakers before her.  One of the speakers that really stood out to me was Julia Riddell, who completed her Masters Thesis under the supervision of Dr. Debra Pepler at the Pine River Institute in Toronto, which is a basically an intervention program for youth who suffer from addictions/mental health issues (Riddell, 2014).  What was interesting to me about this program was the integration of what they call “wilderness therapy”, which I’d never heard of before (Riddell, 2014).  It basically involves them going out into the wilderness;

they camp, hike, do group and individual activities, etc. and the response seems to be quite impressive (Riddell, 2014).  Anyway, this was very fascinating to me and it really stuck with me after the conference.  It’s something I feel like I might be interested in further down the road.

When Dr. Debra Pepler spoke, she didn’t end up saying too much.  She basically just described the “hows and whys” of developmental research, which was beneficial to me, as I hadn’t really thought about it that much before.  Overall, this was a very amazing experience for me, and I could not be more grateful to have been able to meet all the people I met and learn all the things I learned.  I truly hope I’ll be able to attend more events like this in the future, but in the meantime, I will continue to get as much experience as I can, and share what I’ve learned with as many people as I can!



Riddell, J. K. (2014). The development of self in relationships: Youth’s narratives of change through a residential, wilderness and family therapy intervention (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from YorkSpace Institutional Repository (URI: