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Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults

Primack, BA and Shensa, A and Escobar-Viera, Cesar G. and Barrett, Erica and Sidani, JE and Colditz, JB and James, A. Everette (2017) Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69.

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Introduction. While increased social media use (SMU) has been associated with depression and anxiety, the independent role of using multiple social media platforms is unclear.

Methods. We surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1787 U.S. young adults ages 19-32. Dependent variables were both depression and anxiety symptoms measured using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). We assessed use of multiple social media platform with an adapted Pew Internet Research scale. We used ordered logistic regression models to assess associations between multiple platform use and mental health outcomes while controlling for eight covariates, including overall SMU.

Results. Compared to those who used 0-2 social media sites, participants who used 7-11 social media sites had substantially higher odds of having increased levels of both depression (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]=3.0, 95% CI=1.9-4.8) and anxiety symptoms (AOR=3.2, 95% CI=2.0-5.1). Associations were linear (p<.001 for all) and robust to all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions. Use of multiple social media platforms is strongly and independently associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, even when controlling for overall SMU. Future research should determine directionality and reasons for these associations. In the meantime, associations are strong enough to caution people with depression and anxiety about this potential contributing factor.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Primack, BAbprimack@pitt.eduBPRIMACK
Shensa, Aars146@pitt.eduARS146
Escobar-Viera, Cesar
Barrett, Ericaelb125@pitt.eduelb125
Sidani, JEjes107@pitt.eduJES107
Colditz, JBjbc28@pitt.eduJBC28
James, A.
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: 2017
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Computers in Human Behavior
Volume: 69
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.013
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Family Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2018 14:17
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2018 14:17


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