On SAGE Insight: The social media see-saw: Positive and negative influences on adolescents’ affective well-being

From New Media & Society

Social media use is nearly universal among US-based teens. Social media is intertwined with daily life—for school-aged teens in developed countries, interacting with and through social media platforms (SMPs) is “just part of [the] routine.” Yet, although the widespread popularity of SMPs is well-established, the influence of social media on well-being remains controversial. For the parent who is attempting to weigh the benefits and consequences of limiting a child’s social media use, for the clinician whose treatment plan requires effective assessment of a patient’s SMP experiences, and for the researcher committed to advancing scholarship on digital well-being, what is the architecture of adolescents’ emotional lives with social media? All interviewees describe positive and negative affect experiences across multiple dimensions. Analyses suggest the relationship between social technology usage and well-being—whether enhanced or degraded—is not confined to an “either/or” framework: the emotional see-saw of social media use is weighted by both positive and negative influences. The principal contribution of this work is an initial blueprint of networked teens’ emotional experiences related to their uses of SMPs. Understanding contemporary adolescents’ experiences requires ongoing, deliberate attention to multiple components of the social media see-saw. Read more…

Abstract

Social media use is nearly universal among US-based teens. How do daily interactions with social apps influence adolescents’ affective well-being? Survey self-reports (n = 568) portray social media use as predominantly positive. Exploratory principal component analysis further indicates that positive and negative emotions form orthogonal response components. In-depth interviews with a sub-sample of youth (n = 26), selected for maximum variation, reveal that affect experiences can be organized across four functional dimensions. Relational interactions contribute to both closeness and disconnection; self-expression facilitates affirmation alongside concern about others’ judgments; interest-driven exploration confers inspiration and distress; and browsing leads to entertainment and boredom, as well as admiration and envy. All interviewees describe positive and negative affect experiences across multiple dimensions. Analyses suggest the relationship between social technology usage and well-being—whether enhanced or degraded—is not confined to an “either/or” framework: the emotional see-saw of social media use is weighted by both positive and negative influences.

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Article details
The social media see-saw: Positive and negative influences on adolescents’ affective well-being
Emily Weinstein
First Published 21 Feb 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1461444818755634
New Media & Society

 

 

     
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