University of Twente Student Theses


The correlation between social media use, stress, and self-compassion among young women in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tonhäuser, M.J. (2021) The correlation between social media use, stress, and self-compassion among young women in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Abstract:Introduction. The pandemic presents a major stress event with a lot of changes in daily life such as social distancing, isolation, etc. that led to an increase in social media activity. However, increased social media activity comes with both benefits and risks which both can impact stress. One concept, that seems promising to reduce the negative and increases the positive effects, is self-compassion which has been found to reduce stress and to be associated with social media use. Whilst past research indicates that social media use, stress, and self-compassion might be connected, research about possible interaction models are limited. Therefore, this study aims to find out (1)“Self-compassion partially mediates the relationship between social media use and perceived stress.”. Furthermore, multiple factors that have been present already before the pandemic such as social pressure, excessive usage, or social media experience could cause screen time stress and might be even stronger during the pandemic through continuous exposure to negative news. Screen time stress could be a predictor of social media use which is why the second hypothesis of this study is (2) “Individuals who experience screen time-related stress will spend less time on social media.”. Methods. An online survey was carried out with 139 female participants. Next to demographics, we measured self-compassion (SCS-SF), social media use, perceived stress (DASS-21), and screen time stress. A mediation analysis was carried out to investigate the first research question. To examine the second research question, a linear regression was conducted. Results. The mediation analysis revealed that self-compassion did partially mediate the relationship between social media use and perceived stress. Comparing the ‘c path’ with the ‘c`path’ social media use showed a reduced impact on perceived stress when self-compassion was included. Secondly, screen time stress could not be statistically associated with social media use. Discussion. Self-compassion has promising results as partial mediator between social media use and stress even though social media use could not be linked to self-compassion. This might be due to the complexity of social media and that the quality of social media experience (what is consumed and how it affects us) is more relevant than social media frequency when it comes to self-compassion. Furthermore, living alone or with others might affected the outcome as it might determines if social media use is needed to reduce isolation. In terms of screen time stress, most participants reported no to little screen time stress which might be the outcome of other stressors being perceived as more severe which then counteracted screen time stress. It also is unclear how individuals cope with screen time stress during the pandemic as they have fewer alternatives. Lastly, the time period of data collection could have influenced participants' social media behaviour as governmental Covid-19 restrictions were eased and later on aggravated.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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