Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
As social media becomes a ubiquitous presence in the lives of teenagers, a growing body of research across disciplines has examined potential associations between adolescents’ social media use and the development of psychopathology. Much of this research has been limited to investigating the main effects of adolescents’ frequent social media use (or use of social media at all) on maladaptive outcomes. However, as the landscape of modern technology evolves, it has become clear that the use of social media—at high frequencies—is the norm among adolescents. As such, advancing our understanding of social media in the context of adolescent development requires a shift in theoretical perspective. The current studies represent a critical shift in the conceptualization of associations between adolescent social media use and adjustment. Drawing on a developmental psychopathology approach, these studies examine the specific ways in which adolescents use social media, the individual characteristics that may make them more or less susceptible to maladaptive social media behaviors and outcomes, and the developmental time periods during which they rely on these tools. These studies offer a rare opportunity in the field of adolescent social media use to examine longitudinal processes in multiple large, diverse samples of adolescents. Furthermore, they take a unique, multi-method approach, incorporating methodologies that include self-report measures, observational coding of social media pages, and peer sociometric nomination procedures.