Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 259–269 | Cite as

Impact of Social Networking Sites on Children in Military Families

  • Austen B. McGuire
  • Ric G. SteeleEmail author


Youth in military families experience a relatively unique set of stressors that can put them at risk for numerous psychological and behavior problems. Thus, there is a need to identify potential mechanisms by which children can gain resiliency against these stressors. One potential mechanism that has yet to be empirically studied with military youth is social networking sites (SNSs). SNSs have gained significant popularity among society, especially youth. Given the significance of these communication tools in youths’ lives, it is important to analyze how SNS use may affect military youth and their ability to cope with common military life stressors. The current review examines the potential positive and negative consequences associated with SNS use in coping with three common stressors of youth in military families: parent deployment, frequent relocation, and having a family member with a psychological or physical disability. By drawing from SNS and military literature, we predict that SNS use can be a positive tool for helping children in military families to cope with stressors. However, certain SNS behaviors can potentially result in more negative outcomes. Recommendations for future research are also discussed.


Children Social networking sites Military Psycho-social adjustment 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Jeffrey Hall for his helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript.


This study had no external funding.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

This is a review article, and thus, contains no data from human participants collected by the authors.


  1. Acion, L., Ramirez, M. R., Jorge, R. E., & Arndt, S. (2013). Increased risk of alcohol and drug use among children from deployed military families. Addiction, 108, 1418–1425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler, A., & Castro, C. (2001). U.S. soldiers and peacekeeping deployments. Pentagon Technical Report A584293. U.S. Army Medical Research and Material.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychological Association. (2007). Presidential task force report on military deployment services for youth, families and service members. The psychological needs of US service members and their families: A preliminary report. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  4. Association, National. Military. Family. (2004). Serving the home front: An analysis of military family support from September 11, 2001 through March 31, 2004. Alexandria: National Military Family Association.Google Scholar
  5. Baym, N. K. (2015). Personal connections in the digital age. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Blasko, K. A. (2015). MilitaryKidsConnect: Web-based prevention services for military children. Psychological Services, 12, 261–266.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Blue Star Families. (2013). Everyone serves: A handbook for family & friends of service members. New York: NBC Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Booker, C. L., Skew, A. J., Kelly, Y. J., & Sacker, A. (2015). Media use, sports participation, and well-being in adolescence: Cross-sectional findings from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health, 105, 173–179.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer Communication, 13, 210–230.Google Scholar
  10. Bradshaw, C. P., Sudhinaraset, M., Mmari, K., & Blum, R. W. (2010). School transitions among military adolescents: A qualitative study of stress and coping. School Psychology Review, 39, 84–105.Google Scholar
  11. Card, N. A., Bosch, L., Casper, D. M., Wiggs, C. B., Hawkins, S. A., Schlomer, G. L., & Borden, L. M. (2011). A meta-analytic review of internalizing, externalizing, and academic adjustment among children of deployed military service members. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 508–520.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Caselli, L. T., & Motta, R. W. (1995). The effect of PTSD and combat level on Vietnam veterans’ perceptions of child behavior and marital adjustment. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 4–12.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Burns, R. M., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2010). Children on the homefront: The experience of children from military families. Pediatrics, 125, 16–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Han, B., & Burns, R. M. (2013). Views from the homefront: The experiences of youth and spouses from military families. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2011.Google Scholar
  15. Clever, M., & Segal, D. R. (2013). The demographics of military children and families. The Future of Children, 23, 13–39.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cooney, R., De Angelis, K., & Segal, M. W. (2011). Moving with the military: Race, class, and gender differences in the employment consequences of tied migration. Race, Gender & Class, 18, 360–384.Google Scholar
  17. Cornille, T. A. (1993). Support systems and the relocation process for children and families. Marriage & Family Review, 19, 281–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cozza, C. S. J., Chun, C. R. S., & Polo, C. J. A. (2005). Military families and children during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Psychiatric Quarterly, 76, 371–378.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Cozza, S. J., Guimond, J. M., McKibben, J., Chun, R. S., Arata-Maiers, T. L., Schneider, B., & Ursano, R. J. (2010). Combat-injured service members and their families: The relationship of child distress and spouse-perceived family distress and disruption. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 112–115.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Cozza, S. J., Holmes, A. K., & Van Ost, S. L. (2013). Family-centered care for military and veteran families affected by combat injury. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 311–321.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Day, E., Copello, A., Karia, M., Roche, J., Grewal, P., George, S., & Chohan, G. (2013). Social network support for individuals receiving opiate substitution treatment and its association with treatment progress. European Addiction Research, 19, 211–221.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. DeAndrea, D. C., Ellison, N. B., LaRose, R., Steinfield, C., & Fiore, A. (2012). Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college. The Internet and Higher Education, 15, 15–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Department of Defense. (2013). 2013 Demographics: Profile of the military community. Washington: Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.Google Scholar
  24. Department of Defense Education Activity. (2011). Military K12 partners: A DoDEA partnership program.
  25. Doty, J., & Dworkin, J. (2014). Parents’ of adolescents use of social networking sites. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 349–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Drummet, A. R., Coleman, M., & Cable, S. (2003). Military families under stress: Implications for family life education. Family Relations, 52, 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices. New Media & Society. doi: 10.1177/1461444810385389.Google Scholar
  28. Ellison, N. B., Vitak, J., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2014). Cultivating social resources on social network sites: Facebook relationship maintenance behaviors and their role in social capital processes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19, 855–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fernandez-Pol, B. (1988). Does the military family syndrome exist? Military Medicine, 153, 418–420.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Figley, C. (1993). Coping with stressors on the home front. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 51–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Flake, E. M., Davis, B. E., Johnson, P. L., & Middleton, L. S. (2009). The psychosocial effects of deployment on military children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 30, 271–278.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Gentzler, A. L., Oberhauser, A. M., Westerman, D., & Nadorff, D. K. (2011). College students’ use of electronic communication with parents: Links to loneliness, attachment, and relationship quality. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 71–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gonzales, A. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2011). Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: Effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 79–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gorczynski, P., Patel, H., & Ganguli, R. (2013). Evaluating the accuracy, quality, and readability of online physical activity, exercise, and sport information for people with schizophrenia. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 6, 95–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Good, A., Sambhantham, A., & Panjganj, V. (2013). Looking back at Facebook content and the positive impact upon wellbeing: exploring reminiscing as a tool for self soothing. In A. Ozok & P. Zaphiris (Eds.), Online communities and social computing (pp. 278–286). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Grieve, R., Indian, M., Witteveen, K., Tolan, G. A., & Marrington, J. (2013). Face-to-face or Facebook: Can social connectedness be derived online? Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 604–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Havassy, B. E., Hall, S. M., & Wasserman, D. A. (1991). Social support and relapse: Commonalities among alcoholics, opiate users, and cigarette smokers. Addictive Behaviors, 16, 235–246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Havassy, B. E., Wasserman, D. A., & Hall, S. A. (1995). Social relationships and abstinence from cocaine in an American treatment sample. Addiction, 90, 699–710.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Hazan, C., & Zeifman, D. (1994). Sex and the psychological tether. In D. Perlman & K. Bartholomew (Eds.), Advances in personal relationships (pp. 151–180). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  40. Herzog, J. R., Everson, R. B., & Whitworth, J. D. (2011). Do secondary trauma symptoms in spouses of combat-exposed national guard soldiers mediate impacts of soldiers’ trauma exposure on their children? Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 28, 459–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hisle-Gorman, E., Harrington, D., Nylund, C. M., Tercyak, K. P., Anthony, B. J., & Gorman, G. H. (2015). Impact of parents’ wartime military deployment and injury on young children’s safety and mental health. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54, 294–301.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Hoge, C. W., Auchterlonie, J. L., & Milliken, C. S. (2006). Mental health problems, use of mental health services, and attrition from military service after returning from deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. JAMA, 295, 1023–1032.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Holmes, A. K., Rauch, P. K., & Cozza, C. S. J. (2013). When a parent is injured or killed in combat. The Future of Children, 23, 143–162.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Hosek, J., Kavanagh, J. E., & Miller, L. L. (2006). How deployments affect service members. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Huang, G. C., Soto, D., Fujimoto, K., & Valente, T. W. (2014). The interplay of friendship networks and social networking sites: Longitudinal analysis of selection and influence effects on adolescent smoking and alcohol use. American Journal of Public Health, 104, e51–e59.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Huebner, A. J., Mancini, J. A., Wilcox, R. M., Grass, S. R., & Grass, G. A. (2007). Parental deployment and youth in military families: Exploring uncertainty and ambiguous loss. Family Relations, 56, 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Institute of Medicine. (2013). Returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of readjustment needs of veterans, service members, and their families. Washington: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  48. Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 275–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Jensen, P. S., Lewis, R. L., & Xenakis, S. N. (1986). The military family in review: Context, risk, and prevention. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 25, 225–234.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Jensen, P. S., Xenakis, S. N., Wolf, P., & Bain, M. W. (1991). The “military family syndrome” revisited: “By the numbers.”. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179, 102–107.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Jones, B. H., Canham-Chervak, M., Canada, S., Mitchener, T. A., & Moore, S. (2010). Medical surveillance of injuries in the US military: Descriptive epidemiology and recommendations for improvement. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38, S42–S60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Jones, L. M., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2012). Trends in youth internet victimization: Findings from three youth internet safety surveys 2000–2010. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50, 179–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Kanter, M., Afifi, T., & Robbins, S. (2012). The impact of parents “friending” their young adult child on Facebook on perceptions of parental privacy invasions and parent–child relationship quality. Journal of Communication, 62, 900–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. LaGrone, D. M. (1978). The military family syndrome. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 135, 1040–1043.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Laranjo, L., Arguel, A., Neves, A. L., Gallagher, A. M., & Lau, A. Y. (2015). The influence of social networking sites on health behavior change: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 22, 243–256.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Lenhart, A., & Page, D. (2015). Teen, social media and technology overview 2015. Pew Research Center.
  57. Lester, P., Peterson, K., Reeves, J., Knauss, L., Glover, D., Mogil, C., & Beardslee, W. (2010). The long war and parental combat deployment: Effects on military children and at-home spouses. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 310–320.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Li, H., Wang, J., & Wang, L. (2009). A survey on the generalized problematic internet use in Chinese college students and its relations to stressful life events and coping style. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7, 333–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mansfield, A. J., Kaufman, J. S., Marshall, S. W., Gaynes, B. N., Morrissey, J. P., & Engel, C. C. (2010). Deployment and the use of mental health services among US Army wives. New England Journal of Medicine, 362, 101–109.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Marchant, K. H., & Medway, F. J. (1987). Adjustment and achievement associated with mobility in military families. Psychology in the Schools, 24, 289–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Merolli, M., Gray, K., & Martin-Sanchez, F. (2013). Health outcomes and related effects of using social media in chronic disease management: A literature review and analysis of affordances. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 46, 957–969.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Mesch, G. S. (2009). Parental mediation, online activities, and cyberbullying. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12, 387–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Milburn, N. G., & Lightfoot, M. (2013). Adolescents in wartime US military families: A developmental perspective on challenges and resources. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 266–277.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  64. Mmari, K. N., Bradshaw, C. P., Sudhinaraset, M., & Blum, R. (2010). Exploring the role of social connectedness among military youth: Perceptions from youth, parents, and school personnel. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39, 351–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Moorhead, S. A., Hazlett, D. E., Harrison, L., Carroll, J. K., Irwin, A., & Hoving, C. (2013). A new dimension of health care: Systematic review of the uses, benefits, and limitations of social media for health communication. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15, e85. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1933.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  66. Moos, R. H., & Moos, B. S. (2006). Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders. Addiction, 101, 212–222.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  67. Morris, A. S., & Age, T. R. (2009). Adjustment among youth in military families: The protective roles of effortful control and maternal social support. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 695–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Morrison, J. (1981). Rethinking the military family syndrome. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 138, 354–357.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Oishi, S., Kesebir, S., Miao, F. F., Talhelm, T., Endo, Y., Uchida, Y., & Norasakkunkit, V. (2013). Residential mobility increases motivation to expand social network: But why? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 217–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. O’Keeffe, G. S., Clarke-Pearson, K., & Council on Communications and Media. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127, 800–804.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Orthner, D. K., Giddings, M. M., & Quinn, W. (1987). Youth in transition: A study of adolescents from military and civilian families. Washington: Department of the Air Force.Google Scholar
  72. Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family systems and ecological perspectives on the impact of deployment on military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 245–265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Palmer, C. (2008). A theory of risk and resilience factors in military families. Military Psychology, 20, 205–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Park, N. (2011). Military children and families: Strengths and challenges during peace and war. American Psychologist, 66, 65–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Pea, R., Nass, C., Meheula, L., Rance, M., Kumar, A., Bamford, H., & Zhou, M. (2012). Media use, face-to-face communication, media multitasking, and social well-being among 8-to 12-year-old girls. Developmental Psychology, 48, 327.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Pincus, S., House, R., Christenson, J., & Adler, L. (2005). The emotional cycle of deployment: A military family perspective.
  78. Power, P. (1985). Family coping behaviours in chronic illness: A rehabilitation perspective. Rehabilitation Literature, 46, 78–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. PR Newswire. (2015). Facebook reports first quarter 2015 results.
  80. Quinn, S., & Oldmeadow, J. A. (2013). Is the igeneration a ‘we’generation? Social networking use among 9- to 13-year-olds and belonging. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 136–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Rice, S. M., Goodall, J., Hetrick, S. E., Parker, A. G., Gilbertson, T., Amminger, G. P., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2014). Online and social networking interventions for the treatment of depression in young people: A systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16, e206. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3304.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  82. Riggs, S. A., & Riggs, D. S. (2011). Risk and resilience in military families experiencing deployment: The role of the family attachment network. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 675–687.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Ritsher, J. E., Coursey, R. D., & Farrell, E. W. (1997). A survey on issues in the lives of women with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 48, 1273–1282.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Rosen, L. D. (2007). Me, MySpace, and I: Parenting the net generation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  85. Sampasa-Kanyinga, H., & Lewis, R. F. (2015). Frequent use of social networking sites is associated with poor psychological functioning among children and adolescents. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18, 380–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Sayers, S. L., Farrow, V. A., Ross, J., & Oslin, D. W. (2009). Family problems among recently returned military veterans referred for a mental health evaluation. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 163–170.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Sengupta, A., & Chaudhuri, A. (2011). Are social networking sites a source of online harassment for teens? Evidence from survey data. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 284–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Shapiro, L., & Margolin, G. (2014). Growing up wired: Social networking sites and adolescent psychosocial development. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17, 1–18.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  89. Song, H., Zmyslinski-Seelig, A., Kim, J., Drent, A., Victor, A., Omori, K., & Allen, M. (2014). Does Facebook make you lonely? A meta analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 446–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2007). Results from the 2006 national survey on drug use and health: National findings. Rockville: Office of Applied Studies.Google Scholar
  91. Tang, J., Yu, Y., Du, Y., Ma, Y., Zhang, D., & Wang, J. (2014). Prevalence of internet addiction and its association with stressful life events and psychological symptoms among adolescent internet users. Addictive Behaviors, 39, 744–747.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  92. Tanielian, T., & Jaycox, L. (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  93. Twitter. (2015). Twitter usage/company facts.
  94. Vernberg, E. M., Greenhoot, A. F., & Biggs, B. K. (2006). Intercommunity relocation and adolescent friendships: Who struggles and why? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 511.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  95. Vitak, J. (2014). Facebook makes the heart grow fonder. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on computer supported cooperative work & social computingCSCW’14, pp. 842–853. doi: 10.1145/2531602.2531726.
  96. Weber, E. G., & Weber, D. K. (2005). Geographic relocation frequency, resilience, and military adolescent behavior. Military Medicine, 170, 638–642.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  97. Wiens, T. W., & Boss, P. (2006). Maintaining family resiliency before, during, and after military separation. In C. Castro & A. Adler (Eds.), The psychology of serving in peace and combat (Vol. 3): The military family (pp. 13–38). Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  98. Winpenny, E. M., Marteau, T. M., & Nolte, E. (2014). Exposure of children and adolescents to alcohol marketing on social media websites. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 49, 154–159.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  99. Winter, S., Brückner, C., & Krämer, N. C. (2015). They came, they liked, they commented: Social influence on Facebook news channels. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18, 431–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Child Psychology ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations