Project 2 - Who Benefits From Social Media Use and Who Does Not?

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Description: Ever since the introduction of social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, researchers have been studying whether the use of such media may affect adolescents’ well-being. These studies have typically reported mixed findings, yielding either small negative, small positive, or no effects of social media use on well-being (for recent reviews, see for example Best, Manktelow, & Taylor, 2014; James et al., 2017; McCrae, Gettings, & Purssell, 2017; Sarmiento et al., 2018). While this prior work has provided useful insights, it has recently been criticized, most notably by Orben, Dienlin and Przybylski (2019). The main concern of Orben and colleagues (2019) pertained to the fact that most previous research has made inferences about the effects of social media on well-being from between-person rather than within-person associations. Such between-person associations can be useful to understand whether adolescents who use social media more (or less) often than their peers experience lower (or higher) levels of well-being than these peers (Schmiedek & Dirk, 2015; Hamaker, 2012). Yet, the question whether social media use affects an adolescent’s well-being is a question about within-person processes, which can best be answered by investigating fluctuations within single adolescents across multiple points in time (Schmiedek & Dirk, 2015; Hamaker, 2012; Keijsers & van Roekel, 2018). After all, if social media use has any effect on well-being, this should be reflected in changes in well-being within single individuals. Accordingly, Orben and colleagues (2019) called for studies that investigate such within-person associations (also see Whitlock & Masur, 2019). With this study, we aim to provide a better understanding of the association between social media and adolescent well-being. The study will be one of the first to investigate unique, person-to-person differences to understand how the effects of social media use may differ from adolescent to adolescent. To that end, we will conduct an experience sampling method (ESM) study. In this study, we aim to investigate (1) the association between active and passive social media use and well-being, and (2) person-to-person differences in this association. More specifically, we will investigate how many adolescents feel worse after using social media, how many feel better, and how many do not experience any changes in their well-being. The study consists of two phases: A baseline survey and a personalized week-long experience sampling (ESM) study, among a sample of 14- and 15-year-olds. The paper linked to this project is published in Scientific Reports (rdcu.be/b5l2N). Citation: Beyens, I., Pouwels, J.L., van Driel, I.I., Keijsers, L., & Valkenburg, P.M. (2020). The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent. Scientific Reports, 10. This project is part of Project AWeSome (https://osf.io/38qcg/).

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