The Mechanisms Linking Adolescent Social Media Use and Mental Health
There is currently great scientific, public and policy interest in the question of whether there exists a link between social media use and adolescent mental health. The last decade has seen a large influx of publications and reviews in this area, yet no consensus has been reached. Increasingly, researchers now stress that the link is probably highly variable across individuals, but such a conclusion gives little foundation to future research, as well as to clinical and policy applications. To address the need for a new approach in this space, my talk will go beyond the question of whether a link exists between social media use and adolescent mental health, and instead focus on the potential mechanisms that govern the link between the two. This includes thinking about what exactly makes social media different from offline interaction: e.g., the quantification of social feedback and the permanent nature of social interaction. Further, I will explore how these mechanisms might be heightened by adolescents’ cognitive, neural, biological, and social development.