Social Media Use and Depressive Symptoms—A Longitudinal Study from Early to Late Adolescence

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Puukko, K.; Hietajärvi, L.; Maksniemi, E.; Alho, K.; Salmela-Aro, K. Social Media Use and Depressive Symptoms—A Longitudinal Study from Early to Late Adolescence. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 5921.

Title: Social Media Use and Depressive Symptoms—A Longitudinal Study from Early to Late Adolescence
Author: Puukko, Kati; Hietajärvi, Lauri; Maksniemi, Erika; Alho, Kimmo; Salmela-Aro, Katariina
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Date: 2020-08-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/318471
Abstract: An increasing number of studies have addressed how adolescents’ social media use is associated with depressive symptoms. However, few studies have examined whether these links occur longitudinally across adolescence when examined at the individual level of development. This study investigated the within-person effects between active social media use and depressive symptoms using a five-wave longitudinal dataset gathered from 2891 Finnish adolescents (42.7% male, age range 13–19 years). Sensitivity analysis was conducted, adjusting for gender and family financial status. The results indicate that depressive symptoms predicted small increases in active social media use during both early and late adolescence, whereas no evidence of the reverse relationship was found. Yet, the associations were very small, statistically weak, and somewhat inconsistent over time. The results provide support for the growing notion that the previously reported direct links between social media use and depressive symptoms might be exaggerated. Based on these findings, we suggest that the impact of social media on adolescents’ well-being should be approached through methodological assumptions that focus on individual-level development.


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