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Examination of the temporal sequence between social media use and well-being in a representative sample of adults

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posted on 2022-10-19, 02:52 authored by Hannah JarmanHannah Jarman, Sian McLeanSian McLean, Susan PaxtonSusan Paxton, CG Sibley, Mathew MarquesMathew Marques

Abstract: Given insufficient prospective evidence for relationships between social media use and well-being among adults, the present study examined the temporal sequence between social media use and psychological distress and life satisfaction, and explored age and gender differences. A representative sample of adults (N = 7331; 62.4% women; Mage = 51.94; SD = 13.48; 15–94 years) were surveyed annually across four waves. Cross-lagged panel models demonstrated bidirectional relationships between social media use and well-being. Higher psychological distress and lower life satisfaction predicted higher social media use more strongly than the reverse direction, with effects particularly pronounced for the impact of psychological distress. Although the patterns of findings were relatively consistent across age and gender, results suggested that women and middle- and older-aged adults experience detrimental effects of social media use on well-being, which may drive subsequent increased use of social media. The bidirectional relationships suggest that adults who experience psychological distress or lower life satisfaction may seek to use social media as a way to alleviate poor well-being. However, paradoxically, this maladaptive coping mechanism appears to drive increased social media use which in turn can exacerbate poor well-being. Clinicians should be aware of these bidirectional relationships and work with clients towards replacing ineffective strategies with more helpful coping approaches. As this study used a simplistic measure of social media use, future research should address this limitation and explore nuanced relationships afforded by assessing specific social media activities or exposure to certain types of content.

Funding

Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions. The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study is supported by a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust (TRT0196).

History

Publication Date

2022-09-19

Journal

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Pagination

12p.

Publisher

Springer

ISSN

0933-7954

Rights Statement

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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