University of Twente Student Theses


Social media use and its relationship with mental health and well-being

Gerhards, Y. (2022) Social media use and its relationship with mental health and well-being.

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Abstract:Social media use is a regular and frequent behaviour for most young adults and its importance increased during the pandemic. A range of studies suggest that social media use is related to negative mental health outcomes such as increased loneliness while others indicate ways through which social media use may be related to higher well-being. Considering the growing relevance of social media use, it is important to better understand the relationship between these concepts. Therefore, the current study aimed to investigate if social media use predicted loneliness in young adults by also considering potential influences of social comparison orientation, age and nationality. To this end, an online self-report survey was answered by a sample of mostly Dutch and German university students at the University of Twente (N=113). Social media use was operationalized as a combination of screen time, passive and active use. Social media use did not significantly predict loneliness and social comparison orientation, age and nationality had no moderation effect on this relationship. Social media use and social comparison orientation only explained a small percentage of variance within loneliness. A significant positive but weak correlation between social comparison orientation and loneliness was found, suggesting that people scoring high on social comparison orientation are likely to score higher on loneliness. This implies that social media use may not be a relevant variable for interventions aimed at reducing loneliness. The finding that social comparison orientation positively correlates with loneliness could inform further development of the Theory of Social Comparison Orientation. Future research is recommended to focus on more heterogenous samples and use a better way to obtain screen time data. In the current study, it seemed the item on screen time was misunderstood by several participants and it is suggested that providing a slider as a way to answer instead of a text field might reduce the risk of misunderstanding. Additionally, investigating subscales of loneliness and including demographic variables and individual social media platform as moderator variables in the relationship between social media use and loneliness could help in understanding the relationship between these concepts better. Keywords: social media use, loneliness, social comparison orientation, young adults, mental health
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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