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A Tool to Help or Harm? Online Social Media Use and Adult Mental Health in Indonesia

Abstract

The effect of online social media use on individual mental health remains contested. This study examines the effect of online social media (Facebook, Twitter and chat) on adult mental health in Indonesia. Instrumental variable analysis was used to address reverse causality issues. Data come from the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS) 2014, which polled 22,423 individuals age 20 years and older in 9987 households and 297 districts in Indonesia. The findings show that social media use harms adult mental health; an increase of one standard deviation in adult use of social media is associated with 9% increase in CES-D score. The effect is robust with respect to an extensive set of individual, household, community and district covariates. The findings suggest that policies offering advice to wise use of online social media are needed to protect adults from the harmful effects of online social media on their mental health.

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Sujarwoto, S., Tampubolon, G. & Pierewan, A.C. A Tool to Help or Harm? Online Social Media Use and Adult Mental Health in Indonesia. Int J Ment Health Addiction 17, 1076–1093 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00069-2

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Keywords

  • Online social media
  • Mental health
  • Instrumental variable analysis