The majority of adolescents communicate via text-based messaging, particularly through WhatsApp, a widely used free communication application. Written content on WhatsApp has the methodological potential to provide rich qualitative interview data. This study compares data collected using text-based WhatsApp versus face-to-face interview techniques. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of early school leavers in South Africa, using WhatsApp (n = 9) and face-to-face (n = 27) followed by a focus group discussion with interviewers. Mann–Whitney U and chi-squared were used to assess associations. WhatsApp text-based interviews took significantly longer to complete but were comparable to face-to-face on the number of themes generated. Rapport, measured as the number of statements from the interviewer aimed at creating a sense of affinity, comfort, and distress reduction, differed between interview conditions. It may be methodologically appropriate for researchers to offer participants a choice of a preferred method of interviewing or consider pragmatic blended approaches of face-to-face and WhatsApp.
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||Youth & Society|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2022|