March 30, 2023
New Research: Does Social Comparison and Facebook Addiction Lead to Negative Mental Health? A Pilot Study of Emerging Adults Using Structural Equation Modeling
Take a look at this Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science (JTiBS) article examining the impact of social comparison and Facebook addiction on mental health outcomes. This recently published study by Lourdes Salaum Casingcasing and colleagues hypothesized that addiction and social comparison would be predictive of negative mental health outcomes and higher social networking site (SNS) usage.
Use of social networking sites, including Facebook, has shown continued growth with approximately 3.8 billion users. However, SNS use has also been found to be associated with a number of mental health concerns and unhealthy habits, making SNS use similar to other forms of addiction. Researchers suggest that extended online access due to instant messaging and push notifications, “fear of missing out”, and higher social identity have been connected with greater SNS use.
With the increasing use of SNS, research has suggested associations with negative mental health outcomes, such as depression and loneliness. Studies have suggested that increased addictive use of Facebook increased feelings of depression.
In addition, some research has suggested that social comparison, specifically upward (i.e., comparing oneself to someone more fortunate), for individuals with greater Facebook use may be associated with greater depressive symptoms.
Researchers also note that passive participation (e.g., reading information and browsing) on SNS is also associated with higher levels of depression.
The study aimed to explore Facebook addiction, social comparison, and types of SNS use to determine if these factors were predictive of negative mental health outcomes and higher SNS use.
The study included survey responses from 280 students at British universities with data analyzed using structural equation modeling. The survey included measures of active and passive SNS use, Facebook addiction, loneliness, social comparison, and depression.
Study Hypotheses included:
Results demonstrated that Facebook addiction was a significant predictor of depression, loneliness, and active and passive SNS usage. Additionally, social comparison significantly predicted the level of depression experienced. Results from the SEM model suggest that the hypothesized associations between variables were strong.
Consistent with the study hypotheses, researchers found a higher level of Facebook addiction was associated with heightened loneliness and depression and higher rates of both active and passive SNS use. Social comparison also was significantly correlated with Facebook addictions and predicted levels of depression. The study suggests adverse effects of SNS use and gives more context into the individuals that may be more likely to display negative impacts. Researchers encourage further exploration of the amount of time spent on SNS and measuring “fear of missing out”, as these areas may give further clarity to understand the predictive nature on depression symptoms.
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