Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: There has been a lot of discussion in the media about social media and about whether or not it is potentially harmful to young people and particularly to teenage females. I have posted a number of times  regarding articles looking at this question (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5). Throughout this ongoing, broad, debate there is little discussion or consideration of HOW social media could be used in ways that are not harmful to short- or longer-term wellbeing. This is most likely due to the fact that most research is done at the population level meaning that population wide levels of social media use and anxiety and depression are gathered and changes among them over (historical) time are examined for patterns that might suggest problematic influences typically of social media use on anxiety and depression though sometimes the other what around. The result is often rather similar to concerns raised about telephones and television when they were first widely available suggesting that use should be seriously limited or avoided all together if health and “normal” growth and development were to be assured. Eventually discussion shifted (thanks to more, better research data) from use or do not use to how to use sorts of questions. Think for a few minutes, based on what you know NOW about social media, about what advice you would offer to young teenagers and perhaps to their parents and teachers about optimal and appropriate use of social media apps and sites. Once you have collected your thoughts have a read through the article linked below which tries to offer a version of that sort of advice.

Source: How to Decode Your Social Media Use. Lou Cozollno, Chloe Drulls, and Carly Samuelson, Psychology Today.

Date: January 28, 2022

Image by Stux from Pixabay

Article Link:

A number of years ago now (maybe 10?) a student of mine and I gathered some data from first year university students regarding their adjustment (in 9 areas) to post-secondary life and life at university and, as well, we asked them a rather long list of questions about the nature and extent of their use of and engagement with Facebook (which was a much bigger, more universally used thing s then than it is now). We asked them about their current use and about their use of Facebook back when they were in grades 11 and 12 in high school. Of the number of significant results, the most interesting one was that those participants who were functioning most well (having adapted positively to their university experiences) had reduced and shifted their Facebook use from their high school to their university years. They used it less (in terms of hours per week) and they were more likely to have shifted their type of use from reviewing others page and working on their own to using Facebook as a way to find out about organizations and opportunities of relevance to their current educational and career plans. Basically, they were using Facebook more strategically in ways that contributed to their own developmental directions than were other students. The article linked above speaks to some of the areas of social media use or practice that can be adjusted based on self-reflection and self-reflection is at the core of positive development throughout the years of emerging adulthood (from 17 to 29 years of age).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would you summarize the nature and extent of your own use of social media?
  2. Do you think you need to make any changes to the nature or extent (or both) of your current social media use?
  3. What sorts of research do you think should be done if we want to clarify the nature and extent of possible issues associated with social media use?

References (Read Further):

Bekalu, M. A., McCloud, R. F., & Viswanath, K. (2019). Association of social media use with social well-being, positive mental health, and self-rated health: disentangling routine use from emotional connection to use. Health Education & Behavior, 46(2_suppl), 69S-80S. Link

Ostic, D., Qalati, S. A., Barbosa, B., Shah, S. M. M., Galvan Vela, E., Herzallah, A. M., & Liu, F. (2021). Effects of social media use on psychological well-being: a mediated model. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 2381. Link

Sharma, M. K., John, N., & Sahu, M. (2020). Influence of social media on mental health: a systematic review. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 33(5), 467-475. Link

Mitev, K., Weinstein, N., Karabeliova, S., Nguyen, T. V., Law, W., & Przybylski, A. (2021). Social media use only helps, and does not harm, daily interactions and well-being. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 2(1). Link