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The association between self-reported depressive symptoms and the use of social networking sites (SNS): A meta-analysis

Abstract

The use of social networking sites (SNSs) has become a widespread part of modern-day life. A recent proliferation of research regarding SNS use pertains to its association with self-reported depressive symptoms. The current meta-analysis evaluates this literature by assessing the relationship between SNS use and self-reported depressive symptoms. Based on 55 independent samples (N = 80, 533), an effect size of r = .165 was obtained, indicating a small, positive, significant association between self-reported symptoms of depression and SNS use. Furthermore, the type of SNS use was identified to be a significant moderator of this relationship. Limitations of this meta-analysis include the use of mainly cross-sectional studies – limiting the potential for causal claims –, as well as the subjective categorization of certain moderator subgroups. The results of this review highlight the need for advancing various streams of future research; particularly, in determining the direction of the causal relationship between these two constructs, as well as better-defined and theory-grounded definitions of the different types of SNS use.

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Notes

  1. Because of the small number of studies that had investigated the positive aspects of SNS use – alone or in conjunction with other types of SNS use – moderator analyses would not have been appropriate even if this effect size was higher in priority in the coding process.

  2. Due to only one study comprising this group (Lup et al. 2015), it was not used as a subgroup for the moderator

  3. As noted previously, however, only study (McCloskey et al. 2015) was coded as solely assessing SNS use that was positive in quality, based on the inclusion criteria of this review.

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Vahedi, Z., Zannella, L. The association between self-reported depressive symptoms and the use of social networking sites (SNS): A meta-analysis. Curr Psychol 40, 2174–2189 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-0150-6

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Keywords

  • Social networking sites
  • Depression
  • Meta-analysis