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Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults

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In recent years many parents, advocates and policy makers have expressed concerns regarding the potential negative impact of social media use. Some studies have indicated that social media use may be tied to negative mental health outcomes, including suicidality, loneliness and decreased empathy. Other studies have not found evidence for harm, or have indicated that social media use may be beneficial for some individuals. The current correlational study examined 467 young adults for their time spent using social media, importance of social media in their lives and tendency to engage in vaguebooking (posting unclear but alarming sounding posts to get attention). Outcomes considered included general mental health symptoms, suicidal ideation, loneliness, social anxiety and decreased empathy. Results indicated that social media use was not predictive of impaired mental health functioning. However, vaguebooking was predictive of suicidal ideation, suggesting this particular behavior could be a warning sign for serious issues. Overall, results from this study suggest that, with the exception of vaguebooking, concerns regarding social media use may be misplaced.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Berryman, C., Ferguson, C.J. & Negy, C. Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults. Psychiatr Q 89, 307–314 (2018).

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