Social Media as It Interfaces with Psychosocial Development and Mental Illness in Transitional Age Youth
Brian A. Primack
César G. Escobar-Viera
For transitional age individuals, social media (SM) is an integral component of connecting with others. There are 2 billion SM users worldwide. SM users may experience an increase in perceived social support and life satisfaction. Use of SM may facilitate forming connections among people with potentially stigmatizing mental disorders. However, epidemiologic studies suggest that increased SM use is associated with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. Future research should examine directionality of these associations and the role of contextual factors. It also will be useful to leverage SM to provide mental health care and surveillance of mental health concerns.
- Social media has grown substantially, with more than 2 billion new users worldwide in the past 20 years.
- Nearly all transitional age youth use social media, and most use it daily.
- Large, cross-sectional, nationally representative studies demonstrate consistent, linear associations between social media use and depression and anxiety among young adults.
- However, social media networks also may be leveraged to identify individuals with mental health concerns and engage transitional age youth in treatment.
- Future research will be important to determine best practices for optimal use of social media to retain its benefits but minimize its drawbacks.