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The association between valence of social media experiences and depressive symptoms

Primack, BA and Bisbey, MA and Shensa, A and Bowman, ND and Karim, SA and Knight, JM and Sidani, JE (2018) The association between valence of social media experiences and depressive symptoms. Depression and Anxiety, 35 (8). pp. 784-794.

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Background: Social media (SM) may confer emotional benefits via connection with others. However, epidemiologic studies suggest that overall SM is paradoxically associated with increased depressive symptoms. To better understand these findings, we examined the association between positive and negative experiences on SM and depressive symptoms.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1,179 full-time students at the University of West Virginia ages 18–30 in August of 2016. Independent variables were self-reported positive and negative experiences on SM. The dependent variable was depressive symptoms as measured using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measures Information System. We used multivariable logistic regression to assess associations between SM experiences and depressive symptoms controlling for socio-demographic factors including age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, relationship status, and living situation.

Results: Of the 1,179 participants, 62% were female, 28% were non-White, and 51% were single. After controlling for covariates, each 10% increase in positive experiences on SM was associated with a 4% decrease in odds of depressive symptoms, but this was not statistically significant (AOR=0.96; 95% CI=0.91-1.002). However, each 10% increase in negative experiences was associated with a 20% increase in odds of depressive symptoms (AOR=1.20; 95% CI=1.11-1.31). When both independent variables were included in the same model, the association between negative experiences and depressive symptoms remained significant (AOR=1.19, 95% CI=1.10-1.30).

Conclusion: Negative experiences online may have higher potency than positive ones because of negativity bias. Future research should examine temporality to determine if it is also possible that individuals with depressive symptomatology are inclined toward negative interactions.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Primack, BAbprimack@pitt.eduBPRIMACK
Bisbey, MA
Shensa, Aariel.shensa@pitt.eduARS146
Bowman, ND
Karim, SA
Knight, JM
Sidani, JEjes107@pitt.eduJES107
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: August 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Depression and Anxiety
Volume: 35
Number: 8
Page Range: pp. 784-794
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1002/da.22779
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Article Type: Research Article
PubMed ID: 29877002
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2019 13:36
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2019 13:36


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