Social Media Use Subgroups Differentially Predict Psychosocial Well-Being During Early Adolescence
Despite the salience of the social media context to psychosocial development, little is known about social media use patterns and how they relate to psychological and social functioning over time during early adolescence. This longitudinal study, therefore, identified subgroups of early adolescents based on their social media use and examined whether these subgroups predicted psychosocial functioning. Adolescents (N = 1205; 11–14 years; 51% female; 51% white) completed surveys at baseline and a six-month follow-up. There were three social media use subgroups at baseline: high overall social media use (8%); high Instagram/Snapchat use (53%); and low overall social media use (39%). The high social media use subgroup predicted higher depressive symptoms, panic disorder symptoms, delinquent behaviors, family conflict, as well as lower family and friend support, than the High-Instagram/Snapchat and low social media use subgroups. The high Instagram/Snapchat use subgroup predicted higher delinquent behaviors and school avoidance than the low social media use subgroup, but also higher close friendship competence and friend support as compared to both the high social media use and low social media use subgroups. Social media use patterns appear to differentially predict psychosocial adjustment during early adolescence, with high social media use being the most problematic and patterns of high Instagram/Snapchat use and low social media use having distinct developmental tradeoffs.
KeywordsSocial media Adolescence Internalizing problems Externalizing problems Social functioning
We would like to thank all of the school partners and adolescents who participated in this study. We also would like to acknowledge Rhiannon Smith and the PANDA (Predictors of Anxiety and Depression during Adolescence) Project staff, especially Sonja Gagnon, Courtney Lincoln, and Emily Simpson, for their unmatched dedication to the implementation of this study.
AV participated in the study design, coordinated the implementation of the study, conceived of the manuscript objectives and hypotheses, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript; CO conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped to draft the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This research was supported by the Alvord Foundation (PI: Ohannessian).
Data Sharing and Declaration
This manuscript’s data will not be deposited, but syntax and output for analyses are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The Connecticut Children’s Institutional Review Board approved all study procedures (16-072-COMM). The study was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards established by the Helsinki Declaration as revised 1989 and the American Psychological Association.
Parents were mailed a letter inviting their child to participate in the study. Informed parental consent was obtained passively, such that parents who did not want their adolescent(s) to participate in the study contacted the research team directly. Adolescents provided written assent prior to data collection.
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