Skip to main content

Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Michikyan M, Suárez-Orozco C. Adolescent media and social media use: implications for development. J Adolesc Res. 2016;31(4):411–4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bartsch M, Subrahmanyam K. Technology and self-presentation: Impression management online. In: The Wiley handbook of psychology, technology and society. Wiley-Blackwell; 2015. p. 339–357.

  3. Subrahmanyam K, Šmahel D. Digital youth: the role of media in development [e-book]. New York: Springer.

  4. American Association for Suicidology. Validity of the blue whale challenge is disputed, but social media’s impact on young people’s mental health is real. 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/393609296/validity-of-the-blue-whale-challenge-is-disputed-but-social-media-s-impact-on-young-people-s-mental-health-is-real

  5. Royal Society for Public Health. Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/social-media-and-young-people-s-mental-health-and-wellbeing.html

  6. Ferguson CJ. Should we panic about teens’ social media use? Houston Chronicle. 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Should-we-panic-about-teens-social-media-use-11191051.php

  7. Orben A. No, it hasn’t been proven that “Instagram is worst for young mental health”. We need to stop misleading the public with social media pseudoscience. Medium.com. 2017. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/@OrbenAmy/no-it-hasnt-been-proven-that-instagram-is-worst-for-young-mental-health-36894f33c237

  8. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report—the impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics. 2011;127:800–4. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-0054.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Magid, L. Facebook depression: A nonexistent condition. 2011. Retrieved 5/20/12 from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-magid/facebook-depression-nonexistent_b_842733.html

  10. Davila, J. The “Facebook depression” controversy. 2011. Retrieved from: http://web.archive.org/web/20110430231648/http://www.psychology.sunysb.edu/jdavila-/webpage/facebook%20depression%20controversy.htm

  11. Davila J, Hershenberg R, Feinstein B, Gorman K, Bhatia V, Starr L. Frequency and quality of social networking among young adults: associations with depressive symptoms, rumination, and corumination. Psychol Pop Media Cult. 2012;1(2):72–86.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Feinstein B, Hershenberg R, Bhatia V, Latack J, Meuwly N, Davila J. Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: rumination as a mechanism. Psychol Pop Media Cult. 2013;2(3):161–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Reinecke L, Trepte S. Authenticity and well-being on social network sites: a two-wave longitudinal study on the effects of online authenticity and the positivity bias in SNS communication. Comput Hum Behav. 2014;30:95–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Grieve R, Watkinson J. The psychological benefits of being authentic on Facebook. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016;19(7):420–5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Przybylski A, Rigby C, Ryan R. A motivational model of video game engagement. Rev Gen Psychol. 2010;14(2):154–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Savage J. Does viewing violent media really cause criminal violence? A methodological review. Aggress Violent Behav. 2004;10(1):99–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Jenkins-Guarnieri MA, Wright SL, Johnson B. Development and validation of a social media use integration scale. Psychol Pop Media Cult. 2013;2:38–50. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Derogatis LR. Brief symptoms inventory (BSI)-18: administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis: National Computer Systems; 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Zimet G, Dahlem N, Zimet S, Farley G. The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. J Pers Assess. 1988;52(1):30–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lachar D, Gruber CP. A manual for the Personality Inventory for Youth (PIY): A self-report companion to the Personality Inventory for Children (PIC). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

  21. Baker S, Heinrichs N, Kim H, Hofmann S. The Liebowitz social anxiety scale as a self-report instrument: a preliminary psychometric analysis. Behav Res Ther. 2002;40(6):701–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Ferguson C, Negy C. Development of a brief screening questionnaire for histrionic personality symptoms. Personal Individ Differ. 2014;66:124–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Leary MR, Kelly KM, Cottrell CA, Schreindorfer LS. Construct validity of the need to belong scale: mapping the nomological network. J Pers Assess. 2013;95:610–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223891.2013.819511.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Russell D. UCLA loneliness scale (version 3): reliability, validity, and factor structure. J Pers Assess. 1996;66(1):20–40.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Davis MH. Measuring individual differences in empathy: evidence for a multidimensional approach. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1983;44:113–26. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.44.1.113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Reynolds W. Development of reliable and valid short forms of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale. J Clin Psychol. 1982;38(1):119–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

No external funding supported this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

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

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Berryman, C., Ferguson, C.J. & Negy, C. Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults. Psychiatr Q 89, 307–314 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-017-9535-6

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-017-9535-6

Keywords

  • Social media
  • Mental health
  • Suicide
  • Empathy
  • Vaguebooking