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Social Networking Site Use Predicts Changes in Young Adults’ Psychological Adjustment

Authors


  • This study and its write-up were supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health (9R01 HD058305-11A1 and R01-MH58066).

Requests for reprints should be sent to David E. Szwedo, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, PO Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400. E-mail: dszwedo@virginia.edu

Abstract

This study examined youths’ friendships and posted pictures on social networking sites as predictors of changes in their adjustment over time. Observational, self-report, and peer-report data were obtained from a community sample of 89 young adults interviewed at age 21 and again at age 22. Findings were consistent with a leveling effect for online friendships, predicting decreases in internalizing symptoms for youth with lower initial levels of social acceptance, but increases in symptoms for youth with higher initial levels over the following year. Across the entire sample, deviant behavior in posted photos predicted increases in young adults’ problematic alcohol use over time. The importance of considering the interplay between online and offline social factors for predicting adjustment is discussed.

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