Negative Experiences on Facebook and Depressive Symptoms Among Young Adults

Rosenthal,S. et al. Journal of Adolescent Mental Health. Published online: August 2016

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Purpose: To examine whether negative Facebook (FB) experiences were independently associated with depressive symptoms among young adults in a longitudinal family cohort.

Methods: Negative FB experiences were measured by type (e.g., bullying or meanness, unwanted contact, misunderstandings, or any), recency, number of experiences, and severity of upset. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Generalized estimating equations were used to account for sibling correlation; adjusted models were constructed for each negative FB experience measure accounting for sex, race/ethnicity, social support, adolescent depressive symptoms, parental psychological distress, average monthly income, educational attainment, and employment.

Results: In a sample of 264 young adults, all negative FB experience measures were significantly associated with depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: There is a clear association between negative FB experience and depressive symptoms. Future work should examine: (1) whether negative FB experiences cause incident depression or exacerbate preexisting depression; and (2) who is most prone to being upset by negative FB experiences. With further research, recommendations for limiting or altering FB use among high-risk subpopulations could be useful in reducing depressive symptoms.

Read the abstract here

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