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Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults

Liu, L and Sidani, JE and Shensa, A and Radovic, A and Miller, E and Colditz, JB and Primack, BA (2016) Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults. Depression and Anxiety, 33 (4). pp. 323-331.

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Importance: Social media use is rapidly increasing among U.S. young adults. While some research suggests that social media exposure may help depressed individuals cope with their condition, other studies indicate that social media use may actually be associated with increased depression.

Objective: To assess the association between social media use and depression in a nationally-representative sample of young adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: General community.

Participants: We surveyed 1,787 U.S. young adults between the ages of 19 to 32 regarding social media use and depression. Participants were recruited via random digit dialing and address-based sampling. Data were collected from October to November 2014.

Exposure: Social media use was assessed by self-reported total time per day on social media, average number of social media site visits per week, and the score on a global frequency scale adapted from the Pew Internet Research Questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures: Depression was assessed using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Depression Scale Short Form.

Results: In the weighted sample, 50.3% were female and 57.5% were White. Compared to those in the lowest quartile of total time per day spent on social media, participants in the highest quartile had significantly increased odds of depression (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 1.66, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.14-2.42), even after controlling for all covariates. Similarly, in multivariable models, compared with those in the lowest quartile, depression was more common among those in the highest quartiles of social media site visits per week (AOR = 2.74, 95% CI = 1.86-4.04) and the global frequency score (AOR = 3.05, 95% CI = 2.03-4.59). All associations between independent variables and depression demonstrated strong dose-response relationships (P < .001), and results were robust to all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusion and Relevance: In this cross-sectional study, multiple measures of social media use were significantly associated with increased depression. Given the proliferation of social media and the morbidity and mortality associated with depression worldwide, identifying the mechanisms and direction of this association is critical for informing interventions that address social media use and depression.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Liu, L
Sidani, JEjes107@pitt.eduJES107
Shensa, Aars146@pitt.eduARS146
Radovic, A
Miller, Eelm114@pitt.eduELM114
Colditz, JBjbc28@pitt.eduJBC28
Primack, BAbprimack@pitt.eduBPRIMACK
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: 2016
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Depression and Anxiety
Volume: 33
Number: 4
Page Range: pp. 323-331
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1002/da.22466
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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