Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • View all journals
  • Explore content
  • About the journal
  • Publish with us
  • Sign up for alerts
  • Review Article
  • Published: 07 May 2024

Mechanisms linking social media use to adolescent mental health vulnerability

  • Amy Orben   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2937-4183 1 ,
  • Adrian Meier   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8191-2962 2 ,
  • Tim Dalgleish   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7304-2231 1 &
  • Sarah-Jayne Blakemore 3 , 4  

Nature Reviews Psychology ( 2024 ) Cite this article

3607 Accesses

121 Altmetric

Metrics details

  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Science, technology and society

Research linking social media use and adolescent mental health has produced mixed and inconsistent findings and little translational evidence, despite pressure to deliver concrete recommendations for families, schools and policymakers. At the same time, it is widely recognized that developmental changes in behaviour, cognition and neurobiology predispose adolescents to developing socio-emotional disorders. In this Review, we argue that such developmental changes would be a fruitful focus for social media research. Specifically, we review mechanisms by which social media could amplify the developmental changes that increase adolescents’ mental health vulnerability. These mechanisms include changes to behaviour, such as sharing risky content and self-presentation, and changes to cognition, such as modifications in self-concept, social comparison, responsiveness to social feedback and experiences of social exclusion. We also consider neurobiological mechanisms that heighten stress sensitivity and modify reward processing. By focusing on mechanisms by which social media might interact with developmental changes to increase mental health risks, our Review equips researchers with a toolkit of key digital affordances that enables theorizing and studying technology effects despite an ever-changing social media landscape.

You have full access to this article via your institution.

Similar content being viewed by others

media psychology research paper

Loneliness trajectories over three decades are associated with conspiracist worldviews in midlife

media psychology research paper

Determinants of behaviour and their efficacy as targets of behavioural change interventions

media psychology research paper

Adults who microdose psychedelics report health related motivations and lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-microdosers

Introduction.

Adolescence is a period marked by profound neurobiological, behavioural and environmental changes that facilitate the transition from familial dependence to independent membership in society 1 , 2 . This critical developmental stage is also characterized by diminished well-being and increased vulnerability to the onset of mental health conditions 3 , 4 , 5 , particularly socio-emotional disorders such as depression, and eating disorders 4 , 6 (Fig. 1 ). Notable symptoms of socio-emotional disorders include heightened negative affect, mood dysregulation and an increased focus on distress or challenges concerning interpersonal relationships, including heightened sensitivity to peers or perceptions of others 6 . Although some risk factors for socio-emotional disorders do not necessarily occur in adolescence (including genetic predispositions, adverse childhood experiences and poverty 7 , 8 , 9 ), the unique developmental characteristics of this period of life can interact with pre-existing vulnerabilities, increasing the risk of disorder onset 10 .

figure 1

Meta-analytic proportion of age of onset of anxiety (red), obsessive-compulsive disorder (purple), eating disorders (orange), personality disorders (green), schizophrenia (grey) and mood disorders (blue). The peak age of onset (dotted lines) is 5.5 and 15.5 years for anxiety, 14.5 years for obsessive-compulsive disorder, 15.5 years for eating disorders and 20.5 years for personality disorders, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Adapted from ref. 258 , CC BY 4.0 ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ).

Over the past decade, declines in adolescent mental health have become a great concern 11 , 12 . The prevalence of socio-emotional disorders has increased in the adolescent age range (10–24 years 2 ) 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , leading to mounting pressures on child and adolescent mental health services 16 , 21 , 22 . This increase has not been as pronounced among other age groups when compared with adolescents 20 , 22 , 23 (measured in ref.  20 , ref.  22 and ref.  23 as age 12–25 years, 12–20 years and 18–25 years, respectively), even if some studies have found increases across the entire lifespan 24 , 25 . Although these trends might not be generalizable across the world 26 or to subclinical indicators of distress 15 , similar trends have been found in a range of countries 27 . Declines in adolescent mental health, especially socio-emotional problems, are consistent across datasets and researchers have argued that they are not solely driven by changes in social attitudes, stigma or reporting of distress 28 , 29 .

Concurrently, adolescents’ lives have become increasingly digital, with most young people using social media platforms throughout the day 30 . Ninety-five per cent of UK adolescents aged 15 years use social media 31 , and 50% of US adolescents aged 13–17 years report being almost constantly online 32 . The social media environment impacts adolescent and adult life across many domains (for example, by enabling social communication or changing the way news is accessed) and influences individuals, dyads and larger social systems 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 . Because social media is inherently social and relational 37 , it potentially overlaps and interacts with the developmental changes that make adolescents vulnerable to the onset of mental health problems 38 , 39 (Fig. 2 ). Thus, it has been intensely debated whether the increase in social media use during the past decade has a causal role in the decline of adolescent mental health 40 . Indeed, rapid changes to the environment experienced before and during adolescence might be a fruitful area to explore when examining current mental health trends 41 .

figure 2

During adolescence, the interaction between genetic programming (yellow), social determinants (red) and environmental factors (blue), as well as the developmental changes discussed in this Review, increases the risk for onset of mental health conditions. Digital environments, mediated behaviours and experiences, and the impact that this technology has on society and economy more generally, are one aspect of the complex forces that might lead to the declines in adolescent mental health observed in the last decade. Adapted from ref. 259 , Springer Nature Limited.

Although there are many environmental changes that could be relevant, a substantial body of research has emerged to investigate the potential link between social media use and declines in adolescent mental health 42 , 43 using various research approaches, including cross-sectional studies 44 , longitudinal observational data analyses 45 , 46 , 47 and experimental studies 48 , 49 . However, the scientific results have been mixed and inconclusive (for reviews, see refs. 43 , 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 ), which has made it difficult to establish evidence-based recommendations, regulations and interventions aimed at ensuring that social media use is not harmful to adolescents 54 , 55 , 56 , 57 .

Many researchers attribute the mixed results to insufficient study specificity. For instance, the relationship between social media use and mental health varies notably across individuals 45 , 58 and developmental time windows 59 . Yet studies often examine adolescents without differentiating them based on age or developmental stage 60 , which prevents systematic accounts of individual and subgroup differences. Additionally, most studies only rely on self-reported measures of time spent on social media 61 , 62 , and overlook more nuanced aspects of social media use such as the nature of the activities 63 and the content or features that users engage with 52 . These factors need to be considered to unpack any broader relationships 35 , 64 , 65 , 66 . Furthermore, the measurement of mental health often conflates positive and negative mental health outcomes as well as various mental health conditions, which could all be differentially related to social media use 52 , 67 .

This research space presents substantial complexity 68 . There is an ever-increasing range of potential combinations of social media predictors, well-being and mental health outcomes and participant groups of varying backgrounds and demographics that can become the target of scientific investigation. However, the pressure to deliver policy and public-facing recommendations and interventions leaves little time to investigate comprehensively each of these combinations. Researchers need to be able to pinpoint quickly the research programmes with the maximum potential to create translational and real-world impact for adolescent mental health.

In this Review, we aim to delineate potential avenues for future research that could lead to concrete interventions to improve adolescent mental health by considering mechanisms at the nexus between pre-existing processes known to increase adolescent mental health vulnerability and digital affordances introduced by social media. First, we describe the affordance approach to understanding the effects of social media. We then draw upon research on adolescent development, mental health and social media to describe behavioural, cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms by which social media use might amplify changes during adolescent development to increase mental health vulnerability during this period of life. The specific mechanisms within each category were chosen because they have a strong evidence base showing that they undergo substantive changes during adolescent development, are implicated in mental health risk and can be modulated by social media affordances. Although the ways in which social media can also improve mental health resilience are not the focus of our Review and therefore are not reviewed fully here, they are briefly discussed in relation to each mechanism. Finally, we discuss future research focused on how to systematically test the intersection between social media and adolescent mental health.

Social media affordances

To study the impact of social media on adolescent mental health, its diverse design elements and highly individualized uses must be conceptualized. Initial research predominately related access to or time spent on social media to mental health outcomes 46 , 69 , 70 . However, social media is not similar to a toxin or nutrient for which each exposure dose has a defined link to a health-related outcome (dose–response relationship) 56 . Social media is a diverse environment that cannot be summarized by the amount of time one spends interacting with it 71 , 72 , and individual experiences are highly varied 45 .

Previous psychological reviews often focused on social media ‘features’ 73 and ‘affordances’ 74 interchangeably. However, these terms have distinct definitions in communication science and information systems research. Social media features are components of the technology intentionally designed to enable users to perform specific actions, such as liking, reposting or uploading a story 75 , 76 . By contrast, affordances describe the perceptions of action possibilities users have when engaging with social media and its features, such as anonymity (the difficulty with which social media users can identify the source of a message) and quantifiability (how countable information is).

The term ‘affordance’ came from ecological psychology and visuomotor research, and was described as mainly determined by human perception 77 . ‘Affordance’ was later adopted for design and human–computer interaction contexts to refer to the action possibilities that are suggested to the user by the technology design 78 . Communication research synthesizes both views. Affordances are now typically understood as the perceived — and therefore flexible — action possibilities of digital environments, which are jointly shaped by the technology’s features and users’ idiosyncratic perceptions of those features 79 .

Latent action possibilities can vary across different users, uses and technologies 79 . For example, ‘stories’ are a feature of Instagram designed to share content between users. Stories can also be described in terms of affordances when users perceive them as a way to determine how long their content remains available on the platform (persistence) or who can see that content (visibility) 80 , 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 . Low persistence (also termed ephemerality) and comparatively low visibility can be achieved through a technology feature (Instagram stories), but are not an outcome of technology use itself; they are instead perceived action possibilities that can vary across different technologies, users and designs 79 .

The affordances approach is particularly valuable for theorizing at a level above individual social media apps or specific features, which makes this approach more resilient to technological changes or shifts in platform popularity 79 , 85 . However, the affordances approach can also be related back to specific types of social media by assessing the extent to which certain affordances are ‘built into’ a particular platform through feature design 35 . Furthermore, because affordances depend on individuals’ perceptions and actions, they are more aligned than features with a neurocognitive and behavioural perspective to social media use. Affordances, similar to neurocognitive and behavioural research, emphasize the role of the user (how the technology is perceived, interpreted and used) rather than technology design per se. In this sense, the affordances approach is essential to overcome technological determinism of mental health outcomes, which overly emphasizes the role of technology as the driver of outcomes but overlooks the agency and impact of the people in question 86 . This flexibility and alignment with psychological theory has contributed to the increasing popularity of the affordance approach 35 , 73 , 74 , 85 , 87 and previous reviews have explored relevant social media affordances in the context of interpersonal communication among adults and adolescents 35 , 88 , 89 , adolescent body image concerns 73 and work contexts 33 . Here, we focus on the affordances of social media that are relevant for adolescent development and its intersection with mental health (Table  1 ).

Behavioural mechanisms

Adolescents often use social media differently to adults, engaging with different platforms and features and, potentially, perceiving or making use of affordances in distinctive ways 35 . These usage differences might interact with developmental characteristics and changes to amplify mental health vulnerability (Fig.  3 ). We examine two behavioural mechanisms that might govern the impact of social media use on mental health: risky posting behaviours and self-presentation.

figure 3

Social media affordances can amplify the impact that common adolescent developmental mechanisms (behavioural, cognitive and neurobiological) have on mental health. At the behavioural level (top), affordances such as permanence and publicness lead to an increased impact of risk-taking behaviour on mental health compared with similar behaviours in non-mediated environments. At the cognitive level (middle), high quantifiability influences the effects of social comparison. At the neurobiological level (bottom), low synchronicity can amplify the effects of stress on the developing brain.

Risky posting behaviour

Sensation-seeking peaks in adolescence and self-regulation abilities are still not fully developed in this period of life 90 . Thus, adolescents often engage in more risky behaviours than other age groups 91 . Adolescents are more likely to take risks in situations involving peers 92 , 93 , perhaps because they are motivated to avoid social exclusion 94 , 95 . Whether adolescent risk-taking behaviour is inherently adaptive or maladaptive is debated. Although some risk-taking behaviours can be adaptive and part of typical development, others can increase mental health vulnerability. For example, data from a prospective UK panel study of more than 5,500 young people showed that engaging in more risky behaviours (including social and health risks) at age 16 years increases the odds of a range of adverse outcomes at age 18 years, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse 96 .

Social media can increase adolescents’ engagement in risky behaviours both in non-mediated and mediated environments (environments in which the behaviour is executed in or through a technology, such as a mobile phone and social media). First, affordances such as quantifiability in conjunction with visibility and association (the degree with which links between people, between people and content or between a presenter and their audience can be articulated) can promote more risky behaviours in non-mediated environments and in-person social interactions. For example, posts from university students containing references to alcohol gain more likes than posts not referencing alcohol and liking such posts predicts an individual’s subsequent drinking habits 97 . Users expecting likes from their audience are incentivized to engage in riskier posting behaviour (such as more frequent or more extreme posts containing references to alcohol). The relationship between risky online behaviour and offline behaviour is supported by meta-analyses that found a positive correlation between adolescents’ social media use and their engagement in behaviours that might expose them to harm or risk of injury (for example, substance use or risky sexual behaviours) 98 . Further, affordances such as persistence and visibility can mean that risky behaviours in mediated and non-mediated environments remain public for long periods of time, potentially influencing how an adolescent is perceived by peers over the longer term 39 , 99 .

Adolescence can also be a time of more risky social media use. For most forms of semi-public and public social media use, users typically do not know who exactly will be able to see their posts. Thus, adolescents need to self-present to an ‘imagined audience’ 100 and avoid posting the wrong kind of content as the boundaries between different social spheres collapse (context collapse 101 ). However, young people can underestimate the risks of disclosing revealing information in a social media environment 102 . Affordances such as visibility, replicability (social media posts remain in the system and can be screenshotted and shared even if they are later deleted 39 ), association and persistence could heighten the risk of experiencing cyberbullying, victimization and online harassment 103 . For example, adolescents can forward privately received sexual images to larger friendship groups, increasing the risk of online harassment over the subject of the sexual images 104 . Further, low bandwidth (a relative lack of socio-emotional cues) and high anonymity have the potential to disinhibit interactions between users and make behaviours and reactions more extreme 105 , 106 . For example, anonymity was associated with more trolling behaviours during an online group discussion in an experiment with 242 undergraduate students 107 .

Thus, social media might drive more risky behaviours in both mediated and non-mediated contexts, increasing mental health vulnerability. However, the evidence is still not clear cut and often discounts adolescent agency and understanding. For example, mixed-methods research has shown that young people often understand the risks of posting private or sexual content and use social media apps that ensure that posts are deleted and inaccessible after short periods of time to counteract them 39 (even though posts can still be captured in the meantime). Future work will therefore need to investigate how adolescents understand and balance such risks and how such processes relate to social media’s impact on mental health.

Self-presentation and identity

The adolescent period is characterized by an abundance of self-presentation activities on social media 74 , where the drive to present oneself becomes a fundamental motivation for engagement 108 . These activities include disclosing, concealing and modifying one’s true self, and might involve deception, to convey a desired impression to an audience 109 . Compared with adults, adolescents more frequently take part in self-presentation 102 , which can encompass both realistic and idealized portrayals of themselves 110 . In adults, authentic self-presentation has been associated with increased well-being, and inauthentic presentation (such as when a person describes themselves in ways not aligned with their true self) has been associated with decreased well-being 111 , 112 , 113 .

Several social media affordances shape the self-presentation behaviours of adolescents. For example, the editability of social media profiles enables users to curate their online identity 84 , 114 . Editability is further enhanced by highly visible (public) self-presentations. Additionally, the constant availability of social media platforms enables adolescents to access and engage with their profiles at any time, and provides them with rapid quantitative feedback about their popularity among peers 89 , 115 . People receive more direct and public feedback on their self-presentation on social media than in other types of environment 116 , 117 . The affordances associated with self-presentation can have a particular impact during adolescence, a period characterized by identity development and exploration.

Social media environments might provide more opportunities than offline environments for shaping one’s identity. Indeed, public self-presentation has been found to invoke more prominent identity shifts (substantial changes in identity) compared with private self-presentation 118 , 119 . Concerns have been raised that higher Internet use is associated with decreased self-concept clarity. Only one study of 101 adolescents as well as adults reviewed in a 2021 meta-analysis 120 showed that the intensity of Facebook use (measured by the Facebook Intensity Scale) predicted a longitudinal decline in self-concept clarity 3 months later, but the converse was not the case and changes in self-concept clarity did not predict Facebook use 121 . This result is still not enough to show a causal relationship 121 . Further, the affordances of persistence and replicability could also curtail adolescents’ ability to explore their identity freely 122 .

By contrast, qualitative research has highlighted that social media enables adolescents to broaden their horizons, explore their identity and identify and reaffirm their values 123 . Social media can help self-presentation by enabling adolescents to elaborate on various aspects of their identity, such as ethnicity and race 124 or sexuality 125 . Social media affordances such as editability and visibility can also facilitate this process. Adolescents can modify and curate self-presentations online, try out new identities or express previously undisclosed aspects of their identity 126 , 127 . They can leverage social media affordances to present different facets of themselves to various social groups by using different profiles, platforms and self-censorship and curation of posts 128 , 129 . Presenting and exploring different aspects of one’s identity can have mental health implications for minority teens. Emerging research shows a positive correlation between well-being and problematic Internet use in transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse adolescents (age 13–18 years), and positive sentiment has been associated with online identity disclosures in transgender individuals with supportive networks (both adolescent and adult) 130 , 131 .

Cognitive mechanisms

Adolescents and adults might experience different socio-cognitive impacts from the same social media activity. In this section, we review four cognitive mechanisms via which social media and its affordances might influence the link between adolescent development and mental health vulnerabilities (Fig.  3 ). These mechanisms (self-concept development, social comparison, social feedback and exclusion) roughly align with a previous review that examined self-esteem and social media use 115 .

Self-concept development

Self-concept refers to a person’s beliefs and evaluations about their own qualities and traits 132 , which first develops and becomes more complex throughout childhood and then accelerates its development during adolescence 133 , 134 , 135 . Self-concept is shaped by socio-emotional processes such as self-appraisal and social feedback 134 . A negative and unstable self-concept has been associated with negative mental health outcomes 136 , 137 .

Perspective-taking abilities also develop during adolescence 133 , 138 , 139 , as does the processing of self-relevant stimuli (measured by self-referential memory tasks, which assess memory for self-referential trait adjectives 140 , 141 ). During adolescence, direct self-evaluations and reflected self-evaluations (how someone thinks others evaluate them) become more similar. Further, self-evaluations have a distinct positive bias during childhood, but this positivity bias decreases in adolescence as evaluations of the self are integrated with judgements of other people’s perspectives 142 . Indeed, negative self-evaluations peak in late adolescence (around age 19 years) 140 .

The impact of social media on the development of self-concept could be heightened during adolescence because of affordances such as personalization of content 143 (the degree to which content can be tailored to fit the identity, preferences or expectations of the receiver), which adapts the information young people are exposed to. Other affordances with similar impacts are quantifiability, availability (the accessibility of the technology as well as the user’s accessibility through the technology) and public visibility of interactions 89 , which render the evaluations of others more prominent and omnipresent. The prominence of social evaluation can pose long-term risks to mental health under certain conditions and for some users 144 , 145 . For example, receiving negative evaluations from others or being exposed to cyberbullying behaviours 146 , 147 can, potentially, have heightened impact at times of self-concept development.

A pioneering cross-sectional study of 150 adolescents showed that direct self-evaluations are more similar to reflected self-evaluations, and self-evaluations are more negative, in adolescents aged 11–21 years who estimate spending more time on social media 148 . Further, longitudinal data have shown bidirectional negative links between social media use and satisfaction with domains of the self (such as satisfaction with family, friends or schoolwork) 47 .

Although large-scale evidence is still unavailable, these findings raise the interesting prospect that social media might have a negative influence on perspective-taking and self-concept. There is less evidence for the potential positive influence of social media on these aspects of adolescent development, demonstrating an important research gap. Some researchers hypothesize that social media enables self-concept unification because it provides ample opportunity to find validation 89 . Research has also discussed how algorithmic curation of personalized social media feeds (for example, TikTok algorithms tailoring videos viewed to the user’s interests) enables users to reflect on their self-concept by being exposed to others’ experiences and perspectives 143 , an area where future research can provide important insights.

Social comparison

Social comparison (thinking about information about other people in relation to the self 149 ) also influences self-concept development and becomes particularly important during adolescence 133 , 150 . There are a range of social media affordances that can amplify the impact of social comparison on mental health. For example, quantifiability enables like or follower counts to be easily compared with others as a sign of status, which facilitates social ranking 151 , 152 , 153 , 154 . Studies of older adolescents and adults aged, on average, 20 years have also found that the number of likes or reactions received predict, in part, how successful users judge their self-presentation posts on Facebook 155 . Furthermore, personalization enables the content that users see on social media to be curated so as to be highly relevant and interesting for them, which should intensify comparisons. For example, an adolescent interested in sports and fitness content will receive personalized recommendations fitting those interests, which should increase the likelihood of comparisons with people portrayed in this content. In turn, the affordance of association can help adolescents surround themselves with similar peers and public personae online, enhancing social comparison effects 63 , 156 . Being able to edit posts (via the affordance of editability) has been argued to contribute to the positivity bias on social media: what is portrayed online is often more positive than the offline experience. Thus, upward comparisons are more likely to happen in online spaces than downward or lateral comparisons 157 . Lastly, the verifiability of others’ idealized self-presentations is often low, meaning that users have insufficient cues to gauge their authenticity 158 .

Engaging in comparisons on social media has been associated with depression in correlational studies 159 . Furthermore, qualitative research has shown that not receiving as many positive evaluations as expected (or if positive evaluations are not provided quickly enough) increases negative emotions in children and adolescents aged between age 9 and 19 years 39 . This result aligns with a reinforcement learning modelling study of Instagram data, which found that the likes a user receives on their own posts become less valuable and less predictive of future posting behaviour if others in their network receive more likes on their posts 160 . Although this study did not measure mood or mental health, it shows that the value of the likes are not static but inherently social; their impact depends on how many are typically received by other people in the same network.

Among the different types of social comparison that adolescents engage in (comparing one’s achievements, social status or lifestyle), the most substantial concerns have been raised about body-related comparisons. One review suggested that social media affordances create a ‘perfect storm’ for body image concerns that can contribute to both socio-emotional and eating disorders 73 . Social media affordances might increase young people’s focus on other people’s appearances as well as on their own appearance by showing idealized, highly edited images, providing quantified feedback and making the ability to associate and compare oneself with peers constantly available 161 , 162 . The latter puts adolescents who are less popular or receive less social support at particular risk of low self-image and social distress 35 .

Affordances enable more prominent and explicit social comparisons in social media environments relative to offline environments 158 , 159 , 163 , 164 , 165 . However, this association could have a positive impact on mental health 164 , 166 . Initial evidence suggests beneficial outcomes of upward comparisons on social media, which can motivate behaviour change and yield positive downstream effects on mental health 164 , 166 . Positive motivational effects (inspiration) have been observed among young adults for topics such as travelling and exploring nature, as well as fitness and other health behaviours, which can all improve mental health 167 . Importantly, inspiration experiences are not a niche phenomenon on social media: an experience sampling study of 353 Dutch adolescents (mean age 13–15 years) found that participants reported some level of social media-induced inspiration in 33% of the times they were asked to report on this over the course of 3 weeks 168 . Several experimental and longitudinal studies show that inspiration is linked to upward comparison on social media 157 , 164 , 166 . However, the positive, motivating side of social comparison on social media has only been examined in a few studies and requires additional investigation.

Social feedback

Adolescence is also a period of social reorientation, when peers tend to become more important than family 169 , peer acceptance becomes increasingly relevant 170 , 171 , 172 and young people spend increasing amounts of time with peers 173 . In parallel, there is a heightened sensitivity to negative socio-emotional or self-referential cues 140 , 174 , higher expectation of being rejected by others 175 and internalization of such rejection 142 , 176 compared with other phases in life development. A meta-analysis of both adolescents and adults found that oversensitivity to social rejection is moderately associated with both depression and anxiety 177 .

Social media affordances might amplify the potential impact of social feedback on mental health. Wanting to be accepted by peers and increased susceptibility to social rewards could be a motivator for using social media in the first place 178 . Indeed, receiving likes as social reward activated areas of the brain (such as the nucleus accumbens) that are also activated by monetary reward 179 . Quantifiability amplifies peer acceptance and rejection (via like counts), and social rejection has been linked to adverse mental health outcomes 170 , 180 , 181 , 182 . Social media can also increase feelings of being evaluated, the risk of social rejection and rumination about potential rejection due to affordances such as quantifiability, synchronicity (the degree to which an interaction happens in real time) and variability of social rewards (the degree to which social interaction and feedback occur on variable time schedules). For example, one study of undergraduate students found that active communication such as messaging was associated with feeling better after Facebook use; however, this was not the case if the communication led to negative feelings such as rumination (for example, after no responses to the messages) 183 .

In a study assessing threatened social evaluation online 184 , participants were asked to record a statement about themselves and were told their statements would be rated by others. To increase the authenticity of the threat, participants were asked to rate other people’s recordings. Threatened social evaluation online in this study decreased mood, most prominently in people with high sensitivity to social rejection. Adolescents who are more sensitive to social rejection report more severe depressive symptoms and maladaptive ruminative brooding in both mediated and non-mediated social environments, and this association is most prominent in early adolescence 185 . Not receiving as much online social approval as peers led to more severe depressive symptoms in a study of American ninth-grade adolescents (between age 14 and 15 years), especially those who were already experiencing peer victimization 153 . Furthermore, individuals with lower self-esteem post more negative and less positive content than individuals with higher self-esteem. Posted negative content receives less social reward and recognition from others than positive content, possibly creating a vicious cycle 186 . Negative experiences pertaining to social exclusion and status are also risk factors for socio-emotional disorders 180 .

The impact of social media experiences on self-esteem can be very heterogeneous, varying substantially across individuals. As a benefit, positive social feedback obtained via social media can increase users’ self-esteem 115 , an association also found among adolescents 187 . For instance, receiving likes on one’s profile or posted photographs can bolster self-esteem in the short term 144 , 188 . A study linking behavioural data and self-reports from Facebook users found that receiving quick responses on public posts increased a sense of social support and decreased loneliness 189 . Furthermore, a review of reviews consistently documented that users who report more social media use also perceive themselves to have more social resources and support online 52 , although this association has mostly been studied among young adults using social network sites such as Facebook. Whether such social feedback benefits extend to adolescents’ use of platforms centred on content consumption (such as TikTok or Instagram) is an open question.

Social inclusion and exclusion

Adolescents are more sensitive to the negative emotional impacts of being excluded than are adults 170 , 190 . It has been proposed that, as the importance of social affiliation increases during this period of life 134 , 191 , 192 , adolescents are more sensitive to a range of social stimuli, regardless of valence 193 . These include social feedback (such as compliments or likes) 95 , 194 , negative socio-emotional cues (such as negative facial expressions or social exclusion) 174 and social rejection 172 , 185 . By contrast, social inclusion (via friendships in adolescence) is protective against emotional disorders 195 and more social support is related to higher adolescent well-being 196 .

Experiencing ostracism and exclusion online decreases self-esteem and positive emotion 197 . This association has been found in vignette experiments where participants received no, only a few or a lot of likes 198 , or experiments that used mock-ups of social media sites where others received more likes than participants 153 . Being ostracized (not receiving attention or feedback) or rejected through social media features (receiving dislikes and no likes) is also associated with a reduced sense of belonging, meaningfulness, self-esteem and control 199 . Similar results were found when ostracism was experienced over messaging apps, such as not receiving a reply via WhatsApp 200 .

Evidence on whether social media also enables adolescents to experience positive social inclusion is mostly indirect and mixed. Some longitudinal surveys have found that prosocial feedback received on social media during major life events (such as university admissions) helps to buffer against stress 201 . Adult participants of a longitudinal study reported that social media offered more informational support than offline contexts, but offline contexts more often offered emotional or instrumental support 202 . Higher social network site use is, on average, associated with a perception of having more social resources and support in adults (for an overview of meta-analyses, see ref. 52 ). However, most of these studies have not investigated social support among adolescents, and it is unclear whether early findings (for example, on Facebook or Twitter) generalize to a social media landscape more strongly characterized by content consumption than social interaction (such as Instagram or TikTok).

Still, a review of social media use and offline interpersonal outcomes among adolescents documents both positive (sense of belonging and social capital) and negative (alienation from peers and perceived isolation) correlates 203 . Experience sampling research on emotional support among young adults has further shown that online social support is received and perceived as effective, and its perceived effectiveness is similar to in-person social support 204 . Social media use also has complex associations with friendship closeness among adolescents. For example, one experience sampling study found that greater use of WhatsApp or Instagram is associated with higher friendship closeness among adolescents; however, within-person examinations over time showed small negative associations 205 .

Neurobiological mechanisms

The long-term impact of environmental changes such as social media use on mental health might be amplified because adolescence is a period of considerable neurobiological development 95 (Fig.  3 ). During adolescence, overall cortical grey matter declines and white matter increases 206 , 207 . Development is particularly protracted in brain regions associated with social cognition and executive functions such as planning, decision-making and inhibiting prepotent responses. The changes in grey and white matter are thought to reflect axonal growth, myelination and synaptic reorganization, which are mechanisms of neuroplasticity influenced by the environment 208 . For example, research in rodents has demonstrated that adolescence is a sensitive period for social input, and that social isolation in adolescence has unique and more deleterious consequences for neural, behavioural and mental health development than social isolation before puberty or in adulthood 206 , 209 . There is evidence that brain regions involved in motivation and reward show greater activation to rewarding and motivational stimuli (such as appetitive stimuli and the presence of peers) in early and/or mid adolescence compared with other age groups 210 , 211 , 212 , 213 , 214 .

Little is known about the potential links between social media and neurodevelopment due to the paucity of research investigating these associations. Furthermore, causal chains (for example, social media increasing stress, which in turn influences the brain) have not yet been accurately delineated. However, it would be amiss not to recognize that brain development during adolescence forms part of the biological basis of mental health vulnerability and should therefore be considered. Indeed, the brain is proposed to be particularly plastic in adolescence and susceptible to environmental stimuli, both positive and negative 208 . Thus, even if adults and adolescents experienced the same affective consequences from social media use (such as increases in peer comparison or stress), these consequences might have a greater impact in adolescence.

A cross-sectional study (with some longitudinal elements) suggested that habitual checking of social media (for example, checking for rewards such as likes) might exacerbate reward sensitivity processes, leading to long-term hypersensitization of the reward system 215 . Specifically, frequently checking social media was associated with reduced activation in brain regions such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in response to anticipated social feedback in young people. Brain activation during the same social feedback task was measured over subsequent years. Upon follow-up, anticipating feedback was associated with increased activation of the same brain regions among the individuals who checked social media frequently initially 215 . Although longitudinal brain imaging measurements enabled trajectories of brain development to be specified, the measures of social media use were only acquired once in the first wave of data collection. The study therefore cannot account for confounds such as personality traits, which might influence both social media checking behaviours and brain development. Other studies of digital screen use and brain development have found no impact on adolescent functional brain organization 216 .

Brain development and heightened neuroplasticity 208 render adolescence a particularly sensitive period with potentially long-term impacts into adulthood. It is possible that social media affordances that underpin increased checking and reward-seeking behaviours (such as quantifiability, variability of social rewards and permanent availability of peers) might have long-term consequences on reward processing when experienced during adolescence. However, this suggestion is still speculative and not backed up by evidence 217 .

Stress is another example of the potential amplifying effect of social media on adolescent mental health vulnerability due to neural development. Adolescents show higher stress reactivity because of maturational changes to, and increased reactivity in, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis 218 , 219 . Compared with children and adults, adolescents experience an increase in self-consciousness and associated emotional states such as self-reported embarrassment and related physiological measures of arousal (such as skin conductance), and heightened neural response patterns compared with adults, when being evaluated or observed by peers 220 . Similarly, adolescents (age 13–17 years) show higher stress responses (higher levels of cortisol or blood pressure) compared with children (age 7–12 years) when they perform in front of others or experience social rejection 221 .

Such changes in adolescence might confer heightened risk for the onset of mental health conditions, especially socio-emotional disorders 6 . Both adolescent rodents and humans show prolonged hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal activation after experiencing stress compared with conspecifics of different ages 218 , 219 . In animal models, stress during adolescence has been shown to result in increased anxiety levels in adulthood 222 and alterations in emotional and cognitive development 223 . Furthermore, human studies have linked stress in adolescence to a higher risk of mental health disorder onset 218 and reviews of cross-species work have illustrated a range of brain changes due to adolescent stress 224 , 225 .

There is still little conclusive neurobiological evidence about social media use and stress, and a lack of understanding about which affordances might be involved (although there has been a range of work studying digital stress; Box  1 ). Studies of changes in cortisol levels or hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal functioning and their relation to social media use have been mixed and inconclusive 226 , 227 . These results could be due to the challenge of studying stress responses in adolescents, particularly as cortisol fluctuates across the day and one-point readings can be unreliable. However, the increased stress sensitivity during the adolescent developmental period might mean that social media use can have a long-term influence on mental health due to neurobiological mechanisms. These processes are therefore important to understand in future research.

Box 1 Digital stress

Digital stress is not a unified construct. Thematic content analyses have categorized digital stress into type I stressors (for example, mean attacks, cyberbullying or shaming) and type II stressors (for example, interpersonal stress due to pressure to stay available) 260 . Other reviews have noted its complexity, and categorized digital stress into availability stress (stress that results from having to be constantly available), approval anxiety (anxiety regarding others’ reaction to their own profile, posts or activities online), fear of missing out (stress about being absent from or not experiencing others’ rewarding experiences) and communication overload (stress due to the scale, intensity and frequency of online communication) 261 .

Digital stress has been systematically linked to negative mental health outcomes. Higher digital stress was longitudinally associated with higher depressive symptoms in a questionnaire study 262 . Higher social media stress was also longitudinally related to poorer sleep outcomes in girls (but not boys) 263 . Studies and reviews have linked cyberbullying victimization (a highly stressful experience) to decreased mental health outcomes such as depression, and psychosocial outcomes such as self-esteem 103 , 146 , 147 , 264 , 265 . A systematic review of both adolescents and adults found a medium association ( r  = 0.26–0.34) between different components of digital stress and psychological distress outcomes such as anxiety, depression or loneliness, which was not moderated by age or sex (except for connection overload) 266 . However, the causal structure giving rise to such results is still far from clear. For example, surveys have linked higher stress levels to more problematic social media use and fear of missing out 267 , 268 .

Thus, the impact of digital stress on mental health is probably complex and influenced by the type of digital stressor and various affordances. For example, visibility and availability increase fear of negative public evaluation 269 and high availability and a social norm of responding quickly to messages drive constant monitoring in adolescents due to a persistent fear of upsetting friends 270 .

A range of relevant evidence from qualitative and quantitative studies documents that adolescents often ruminate about online interactions and messages. For example, online salience (constantly thinking about communication, content or events happening online) was positively associated with stress on both between-person and within-person levels in a cross-sectional quota sample of adults and three diary studies of young adults 271 , 272 . Online salience has also been associated with lower well-being in a pre-registered study of momentary self-reports from young adults with logged online behaviours. However, this study also noted that positive thoughts were related to higher well-being 273 . Furthermore, although some studies found no associations between the amount of communication and digital stress 272 , a cross-sectional study found that younger users’ (age 14–34 years and 35–49 years) perception of social pressure to be constantly available was related to communication load (measured by questions about the amount of use, as well as the urge to check email and social media) and Internet multitasking, whereas this was not the case for older users aged 50–85 years 274 . By contrast, communication load and perceived stress were associated only among older users.

Summary and future directions

To help to understand the potential role of social media in the decline of adolescent mental health over the past decade, researchers should study the mechanisms linking social media, adolescent development and mental health. Specifically, social media environments might amplify the socio-cognitive processes that render adolescents more vulnerable to mental health conditions in the first place. We outline various mechanisms at three levels of adolescent development — behavioural, cognitive and neurobiological — that could be involved in the decline of adolescent mental health as a function of social media engagement. To do so, we delineate specific social media affordances, such as quantification of social feedback or anonymity, which can also have positive impacts on mental health.

Our Review sets out clear recommendations for future research on the intersection of social media and adolescent mental health. The foundation of this research lies in the existing literature investigating the underlying processes that heighten adolescents’ risk of developing socio-emotional disorders. Zooming in on the potential mechanistic targets impacted by social media uses and affordances will produce specific research questions to facilitate controlled and systematic scientific inquiry relevant for intervention and translation. This approach encourages researchers to pinpoint the mechanisms and levels of explanation they want to include and will enable them to identify what factors to additionally consider, such as participants’ age 60 , the specific mental health outcomes being measured, the types of social media being examined and the populations under study 52 , 228 . Targeted and effective research should prioritize the most promising areas of study and acknowledge that all research approaches have inherent limitations 229 . Researchers must embrace methodological diversity, which in turn will facilitate triangulation. Surveys, experience sampling designs in conjunction with digital trace data, as well as experimental or neuroimaging paradigms and computational modelling (such as reinforcement learning) can all be used to address research questions comprehensively 230 . Employing such a multi-method approach enables the convergence of evidence and strengthens the reliability of findings 231 .

Mental health and developmental research can also become more applicable to the study of social media by considering how studies might already be exploring features of the digital environment, such as its design features and perceived affordances. Many cognitive neuroscience studies that investigate social processes and mental health during adolescence necessarily design tasks that can be completed in controlled experimental or brain scanning environments. Consequently, they tend to focus on digitally mediated interactions. However, researchers conceptualize and generalize their results to face-to-face interactions. For example, it is common across the discipline to not explicitly describe the interactions under study as being about social processes in digital environments (such as studies that assess social feedback based on the number of ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ received in social media 232 ). Considering whether cognitive neuroscience studies include key affordances of mediated (or non-mediated) environments, and discussing these in published papers, will make studies searchable within the field of social media research, enabling researchers to broaden the impact of their work and systematically specify generalizations to offline environments 233 .

To bridge the gap between knowledge about mediated and non-mediated social environments, it is essential to directly compare the two 233 . It is often assumed that negative experiences online have a detrimental impact on mental health. However, it remains unclear whether this mechanism is present in both mediated and non-mediated spaces or whether it is specific to the mediated context. For instance, our Review highlights that the quantification of social feedback through likes is an important affordance of social media 160 . Feedback on social media platforms might therefore elicit a greater sense of certainty because it is quantified compared with the more subjective and open-to-interpretation feedback received face to face 151 . Conducting experiments in which participants receive feedback that is more or less quantified and uncertain, specifically designed to compare mediated and non-mediated environments, would provide valuable insights. Such research efforts could also establish connections with computational neuroscience studies demonstrating that people tend to learn faster from stimuli that are less uncertain 234 .

We have chosen not to make recommendations concerning interventions targeting social media use to improve adolescent mental health for several reasons. First, we did not fully consider the bidirectional interactions between environment and development 35 , 235 , or the factors modulating adolescents’ differential susceptibility to the effects of social media 45 , 58 . For example, mental health status also influences how social media is used 47 , 58 , 59 , 236 , 237 (Box  2 ). These bidirectional interactions could be addressed using network or complexity science approaches 238 . Second, we do not yet know how the potential mechanisms by which social media might increase mental health vulnerability compare in magnitude, importance, scale and ease and/or cost of intervention with other factors and mechanisms that are already well known to influence mental health, such as poverty or loneliness. Last, social media use will probably interact with these predictors in ways that have not been delineated and can also support mental health resilience (for example, through social support or online self-help programmes). These complexities should be considered in future research, which will need to pinpoint not just the existence of mechanisms but their relative importance, to identify policy and intervention priorities.

Our Review has used a broad definition of mental health. Focusing on specific diagnostic or transdiagnostic symptomatology might reveal different mechanisms of interest. Furthermore, our Review is limited to mechanisms related to behaviour and neurocognitive development, disregarding other levels of explanation (such as genetics and culture) 34 , and also studying predominately Western-centric samples 239 . Mechanisms do not operate solely in linear pathways but exist within networks of interacting risk and resilience factors, characterized by non-linear and complex dynamics across diverse timescales 9 . Mechanisms and predisposing factors can interact and combine, amplifying mental health vulnerability. Mental health can be considered a dynamic system in which gradual changes to external conditions can have substantial downstream consequences due to system properties such as feedback loops 240 , 241 , 242 . These consequences are especially prominent in times of change and pre-existing vulnerability, such as adolescence 10 .

Indeed, if social media is a contributing factor to the current decline in adolescent mental health, as is commonly assumed, then it is important to identify and investigate mechanisms that are specifically tailored to the adolescent age range and make the case for why they matter. Without a thorough examination of these mechanisms and policy analysis to indicate whether they should be a priority to address, there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that social media is the primary — or even just an influential and important — driver of mental health declines. Researchers need to stop studying social media as monolithic and uniform, and instead study its features, affordances and outcomes by leveraging a range of methods including experiments, questionnaires, qualitative research and industry data. Ultimately, this comprehensive approach will enhance researchers’ ability to address the potential challenges that the digital era poses on adolescent mental health.

Box 2 Effects of mental health on social media use

Although a lot of scientific discussion has focused on the impact of social media use on mental health, cross-sectional studies cannot differentiate between whether social media use is influencing mental health or mental health is influencing social media use, or a third factor is influencing both 51 . It is likely that mental health status influences social media use creating reinforcing cycles of behaviour, something that has been considered in the communication sciences literature under the term ‘transactional media effects’ 58 , 236 , 237 . According to communication science models, media use and its consequences are components of reciprocal processes 275 .

There are similar models in mental health research. For example, people’s moods influence their judgements of events, which can lead to self-perpetuating cycles of negativity (or positivity); a mechanism called ‘mood congruency’ 276 . Behavioural studies have also shown that people experiencing poor mental health behave in ways that decrease their opportunity to experience environmental reward such as social activities, maintaining poor mental health 277 , 278 . Although for many people these behaviours are a form of coping (for example, by avoiding stressful circumstances), they often worsen symptoms of mental health conditions 279 .

Some longitudinal studies found that a decrease in adolescent well-being predicted an increase in social media use 1 year later 47 , 59 . However, other studies have found no relationships between well-being and social media use over long-term or daily time windows 45 , 46 . One reason behind the heterogeneity of the results could be that how mental health impacts social media use is highly individual 45 , 280 .

Knowledge on the impact of mental health on social media use is still in its infancy and studies struggle to reach coherent conclusions. However, findings from the mental health literature can be used to generate hypotheses about how aspects of mental health might impact social media use. For example, it has been repeatedly found that young people with anxiety or eating disorders engage in more social comparisons than individuals without these disorders 281 , 282 , and adolescents with depression report more unfavourable social comparisons on social media than adolescents without depression 283 . Similar results have been found for social feedback seeking (for example, reassurance), including in social media environments 159 . Specifically, depressive symptoms were more associated with social comparison and feedback seeking, and these associations were stronger in women and in adolescents who were less popular. Individuals from the general population with lower self-esteem post more negative and less positive content than individuals with higher self-esteem, which in turn is associated with receiving less positive feedback from others 185 . There are therefore a wide range of possible ways in which diverse aspects of mental health might influence specific facets of how social media is used — and, in turn, how it ends up impacting the user.

Savin-Williams, R. Adolescence: An Ethological Perspective (Springer, 1987).

Sawyer, S. M., Azzopardi, P. S., Wickremarathne, D. & Patton, G. C. The age of adolescence. Lancet Child. Adolesc. Health 2 , 223–228 (2018).

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Paus, T., Keshavan, M. & Giedd, J. N. Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence? Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 9 , 947–957 (2008).

Article   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Solmi, M. et al. Age at onset of mental disorders worldwide: large-scale meta-analysis of 192 epidemiological studies. Mol. Psychiatry 27 , 281–295 (2022).

Orben, A., Lucas, R. E., Fuhrmann, D. & Kievit, R. A. Trajectories of adolescent life satisfaction. R. Soc. Open. Sci. 9 , 211808 (2022).

Rapee, R. M. et al. Adolescent development and risk for the onset of social-emotional disorders: a review and conceptual model. Behav. Res. Ther. 123 , 103501 (2019). This review describes why adolescence is a sensitive period for mental health vulnerability.

Arango, C. et al. Risk and protective factors for mental disorders beyond genetics: an evidence‐based atlas. World Psychiatry 20 , 417–436 (2021).

Ioannidis, K., Askelund, A. D., Kievit, R. A. & van Harmelen, A.-L. The complex neurobiology of resilient functioning after childhood maltreatment. BMC Med. 18 , 32 (2020).

Kraemer, H. C., Stice, E., Kazdin, A., Offord, D. & Kupfer, D. How do risk factors work together? Mediators, moderators, and independent, overlapping, and proxy risk factors. AJP 158 , 848–856 (2001).

Article   Google Scholar  

Hankin, B. L. & Abramson, L. Y. Development of gender differences in depression: an elaborated cognitive vulnerability–transactional stress theory. Psychol. Bull. 127 , 773–796 (2001).

Collishaw, S., Maughan, B., Natarajan, L. & Pickles, A. Trends in adolescent emotional problems in England: a comparison of two national cohorts twenty years apart: twenty-year trends in emotional problems. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatry 51 , 885–894 (2010).

Pitchforth, J. M., Viner, R. M. & Hargreaves, D. S. Trends in mental health and wellbeing among children and young people in the UK: a repeated cross-sectional study, 2000–14. Lancet 388 , S93 (2016).

Coley, R. L., O’Brien, M. & Spielvogel, B. Secular trends in adolescent depressive symptoms: growing disparities between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. J. Youth Adolescence 48 , 2087–2098 (2019).

Patalay, P. & Gage, S. H. Changes in millennial adolescent mental health and health-related behaviours over 10 years: a population cohort comparison study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 48 , 1650–1664 (2019).

Pitchforth, J. M. et al. Mental health and well-being trends among children and young people in the UK, 1995–2014: analysis of repeated cross-sectional national health surveys. Psychol. Med. 49 , 1275–1285 (2019).

Plana‐Ripoll, O. et al. Temporal changes in sex‐ and age‐specific incidence profiles of mental disorders—a nationwide study from 1970 to 2016. Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 145 , 604–614 (2022).

Twenge, J. M., Cooper, A. B., Joiner, T. E., Duffy, M. E. & Binau, S. G. Age, period, and cohort trends in mood disorder indicators and suicide-related outcomes in a nationally representative dataset, 2005–2017. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 128 , 185–199 (2019).

van Vuuren, C. L., Uitenbroek, D. G., van der Wal, M. F. & Chinapaw, M. J. M. Sociodemographic differences in 10-year time trends of emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents attending secondary schools in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Eur. Child. Adolesc. Psychiatry 27 , 1621–1631 (2018).

Collishaw, S. Annual research review: secular trends in child and adolescent mental health. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatry 56 , 370–393 (2015).

Goodwin, R. D. et al. Trends in U.S. depression prevalence from 2015 to 2020: the widening treatment gap. Am. J. Prev. Med. 63 , 726–733 (2022).

Mojtabai, R. & Olfson, M. National trends in mental health care for US adolescents. JAMA Psychiatry 77 , 703 (2020).

Mojtabai, R., Olfson, M. & Han, B. National trends in the prevalence and treatment of depression in adolescents and young adults. Pediatrics 138 , e20161878 (2016).

Goodwin, R. D., Weinberger, A. H., Kim, J. H., Wu, M. & Galea, S. Trends in anxiety among adults in the United States, 2008–2018: rapid increases among young adults. J. Psychiatr. Res. 130 , 441–446 (2020).

Beerten, S. G. et al. Trends in the registration of anxiety in Belgian primary care from 2000 to 2021: a registry-based study. Br. J. Gen. Pract. 73 , e460–e467 (2022).

Walrave, R. et al. Trends in the epidemiology of depression and comorbidities from 2000 to 2019 in Belgium. BMC Prim. Care 23 , 163 (2022).

Vuorre, M. & Przybylski, A. K. Global well-being and mental health in the internet age. Clin. Psychol. Sci . https://doi.org/10.1177/21677026231207791 (2023).

Steffen, A., Thom, J., Jacobi, F., Holstiege, J. & Bätzing, J. Trends in prevalence of depression in Germany between 2009 and 2017 based on nationwide ambulatory claims data. J. Affect. Disord. 271 , 239–247 (2020).

Ford, T. Editorial Perspective: why I am now convinced that emotional disorders are increasingly common among young people in many countries. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatr. 61 , 1275–1277 (2020).

McElroy, E., Tibber, M., Fearon, P., Patalay, P. & Ploubidis, G. B. Socioeconomic and sex inequalities in parent‐reported adolescent mental ill‐health: time trends in four British birth cohorts. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry 64 , 758–767 (2022).

OECD. Society at a Glance 2019: OECD Social Indicators (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019).

Ofcom. Online Nation (2021). Ofcom.org.uk https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/online-research/online-nation (2022).

Anderson, M. & Jiang, J. Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences (Pew Research Center, 2018).

McFarland, L. A. & Ployhart, R. E. Social media: a contextual framework to guide research and practice. J. Appl. Psychol. 100 , 1653–1677 (2015).

Büchi, M. Digital well-being theory and research. N. Media Soc. 26 , 172–189 (2024).

Nesi, J., Choukas-Bradley, S. & Prinstein, M. J. Transformation of adolescent peer relations in the social media context: part 1—a theoretical framework and application to dyadic peer relationships. Clin. Child. Fam. Psychol. Rev. 21 , 267–294 (2018). This landmark paper applies the idea of affordances to understanding the impact of social media on adolescent social relationships.

Taffel, S. Perspectives on the postdigital: beyond rhetorics of progress and novelty. Convergence 22 , 324–338 (2016).

Papacharissi, Z. We have always been social. Soc. Media + Society 1 , 205630511558118 (2015).

Google Scholar  

Crone, E. A. & Konijn, E. A. Media use and brain development during adolescence. Nat. Commun. 9 , 1–10 (2018). This article describes adolescent cognitive and neural development and its intersection with new types of technology.

Weinstein, E. & James, C. Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (and Adults Are Missing) (MIT Press, 2022).

Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L. & Martin, G. N. Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clin. Psychol. Sci. 6 , 3–17 (2017).

Gunnell, D., Kidger, J. & Elvidge, H. Adolescent mental health in crisis. BMJ 361 , k2608 (2018).

Odgers, C. L., Schueller, S. M. & Ito, M. Screen time, social media use, and adolescent development. Annu. Rev. Dev. Psychol. 2 , 485–502 (2020).

Valkenburg, P. M., Meier, A. & Beyens, I. Social media use and its impact on adolescent mental health: an umbrella review of the evidence. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 44 , 58–68 (2022).

Kreski, N. et al. Social media use and depressive symptoms among United States adolescents. J. Adolesc. Health 68 , 572–579 (2020).

Beyens, I., Pouwels, J. L., van Driel, I. I., Keijsers, L. & Valkenburg, P. M. The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent. Sci. Rep. 10 , 10763 (2020). This landmark paper highlights that the impacts of social media on well-being are highly individual.

Jensen, M., George, M. J., Russell, M. R. & Odgers, C. L. Young adolescents’ digital technology use and mental health symptoms: little evidence of longitudinal or daily linkages. Clin. Psychol. Sci. 7 , 1416–1433 (2019).

Orben, A., Dienlin, T. & Przybylski, A. K. Social media’s enduring effect on adolescent life satisfaction. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 116 , 10226–10228 (2019).

Allcott, H., Braghieri, L., Eichmeyer, S. & Gentzkow, M. The welfare effects of social media. Am. Economic Rev. 110 , 629–676 (2020).

Nassen, L.-M., Vandebosch, H., Poels, K. & Karsay, K. Opt-out, abstain, unplug. A systematic review of the voluntary digital disconnection literature. Telemat. Inform. 81 , 101980 (2023).

Dienlin, T. & Johannes, N. The impact of digital technology use on adolescent well-being. Dialogues Clin. Neurosci. 22 , 135–142 (2020).

Odgers, C. L. & Jensen, M. R. Annual research review: adolescent mental health in the digital age: facts, fears, and future directions. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatry 61 , 336–348 (2020).

Meier, A. & Reinecke, L. Computer-mediated communication, social media, and mental health: a conceptual and empirical meta-review. Commun. Res. 48 , 1182–1209 (2021). This review provides a hierarchical taxonomy of the levels of analysis at which social media can be conceptualized and measured.

Orben, A. Teenagers, screens and social media: a narrative review of reviews and key studies. Soc. Psychiatry Psychiatr. Epidemiol. 55 , 407–414 (2020).

Bell, V., Bishop, D. V. M. & Przybylski, A. K. The debate over digital technology and young people. BMJ 351 , h3064 (2015).

Online Safety Act 2023. legislation.gov.uk , https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2023/50/enacted (2023).

Hawkes, N. CMO report is unable to shed light on impact of screen time and social media on children’s health. BMJ 364 , l643 (2019).

US Department of Health and Human Services. Social Media and Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory (2023).

Valkenburg, P. M. & Peter, J. The differential susceptibility to media effects model: differential susceptibility to media effects model. J. Commun. 63 , 221–243 (2013). This landmark paper examines how the impact of media is influenced by individual differences.

Orben, A., Przybylski, A. K., Blakemore, S.-J. & Kievit, R. A. Windows of developmental sensitivity to social media. Nat. Commun. 13 , 1649 (2022). This large-scale data analysis shows that adolescent development potentially influences how social media impacts well-being.

Orben, A. & Blakemore, S.-J. How social media affects teen mental health: a missing link. Nature 614 , 410–412 (2023).

Shaw, H. et al. Quantifying smartphone “use”: choice of measurement impacts relationships between “usage” and health. Technol. Mind Behav . 1 , https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000022 (2020).

Parry, D. A. et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of discrepancies between logged and self-reported digital media use. Nat. Hum. Behav. 5 , 1535–1547 (2021).

Verduyn, P., Gugushvili, N. & Kross, E. Do social networking sites influence well-being? The extended active-passive model. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 31 , 62–68 (2022).

Davidson, B. I., Shaw, H. & Ellis, D. A. Fuzzy constructs in technology usage scales. Comput. Hum. Behav. 133 , 107206 (2022).

Shaw, D. J., Kaye, L. K., Ngombe, N., Kessler, K. & Pennington, C. R. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it: an experimental task delineates among passive, reactive and interactive styles of behaviour on social networking sites. PLoS ONE 17 , e0276765 (2022).

Griffioen, N., Van Rooij, M., Lichtwarck-Aschoff, A. & Granic, I. Toward improved methods in social media research. Technol. Mind Behav . 1 , https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000005 (2020).

Valkenburg, P. M. Social media use and well-being: what we know and what we need to know. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 45 , 101294 (2022).

Yang, C., Holden, S. M. & Ariati, J. Social media and psychological well-being among youth: the multidimensional model of social media use. Clin. Child. Fam. Psychol. Rev. 24 , 631–650 (2021).

Kelly, Y., Zilanawala, A., Booker, C. & Sacker, A. Social media use and adolescent mental health: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. EClinicalMedicine 6 , 59–68 (2019).

Orben, A. & Przybylski, A. K. The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use. Nat. Hum. Behav. 3 , 173–182 (2019).

Sultan, M., Scholz, C. & van den Bos, W. Leaving traces behind: using social media digital trace data to study adolescent wellbeing. Comput. Hum. Behav. Rep. 10 , 100281 (2023).

Kaye, L., Orben, A., Ellis, D., Hunter, S. & Houghton, S. The conceptual and methodological mayhem of “screen time”. IJERPH 17 , 3661 (2020).

Choukas-Bradley, S., Roberts, S. R., Maheux, A. J. & Nesi, J. The perfect storm: a developmental–sociocultural framework for the role of social media in adolescent girls’ body image concerns and mental health. Clin. Child. Fam. Psychol. Rev. 25 , 681–701 (2022). This review focuses on how social media can influence adolescent development of body image.

Moreno, M. A. & Uhls, Y. T. Applying an affordances approach and a developmental lens to approach adolescent social media use. Digital Health 5 , 205520761982667 (2019).

Smock, A. D., Ellison, N. B., Lampe, C. & Wohn, D. Y. Facebook as a toolkit: a uses and gratification approach to unbundling feature use. Comput. Hum. Behav. 27 , 2322–2329 (2011).

Bayer, J. B., Triêu, P. & Ellison, N. B. Social media elements, ecologies, and effects. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 71 , 471–497 (2020).

Gibson, J. J. The Scological Approach to Visual Perception (Houghton Mifflin, 1979).

Norman, D. A. The Psychology of Everyday Things (Basic Books, 1988).

Evans, S. K., Pearce, K. E., Vitak, J. & Treem, J. W. Explicating affordances: a conceptual framework for understanding affordances in communication research. J. Comput. Mediat. Commun. 22 , 35–52 (2017).

Bayer, J. B., Ellison, N. B., Schoenebeck, S. Y. & Falk, E. B. Sharing the small moments: ephemeral social interaction on Snapchat. Information . Commun. Soc. 19 , 956–977 (2016).

Fox, J. & McEwan, B. Distinguishing technologies for social interaction: the perceived social affordances of communication channels scale. Commun. Monogr. 84 , 298–318 (2017).

Kreling, R., Meier, A. & Reinecke, L. Feeling authentic on social media: subjective authenticity across instagram stories and posts. Soc. Media + Society 8 , 205630512210862 (2022).

Leonardi, P. M. Social media, knowledge sharing, and innovation: toward a theory of communication visibility. Inf. Syst. Res. 25 , 796–816 (2014).

Treem, J. W. & Leonardi, P. M. Social media use in organizations: exploring the affordances of visibility, editability, persistence, and association. Ann. Int. Commun. Assoc. 36 , 143–189 (2013).

Ellison, N. B., Pyle, C. & Vitak, J. Scholarship on well-being and social media: a sociotechnical perspective. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 46 , 101340 (2022).

Orben, A. The Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 15 , 1143–1157 (2020).

Granic, I., Morita, H. & Scholten, H. Beyond screen time: identity development in the digital age. Psychol. Inq. 31 , 195–223 (2020). This perspective discusses how adolescent identity development might be impacted by digital platforms including social media and video games.

Lieberman, A. & Schroeder, J. Two social lives: how differences between online and offline interaction influence social outcomes. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 31 , 16–21 (2020).

Valkenburg, P. M. & Peter, J. Online communication among adolescents: an integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. J. Adolesc. Health 48 , 121–127 (2011).

Steinberg, L. et al. Around the world, adolescence is a time of heightened sensation seeking and immature self-regulation. Dev. Sci. 21 , e12532 (2018).

Blakemore, S.-J. & Robbins, T. W. Decision-making in the adolescent brain. Nat. Neurosci. 15 , 1184–1191 (2012).

Steinberg, L. A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Dev. Rev. 28 , 78–106 (2008).

Chein, J., Albert, D., O’Brien, L., Uckert, K. & Steinberg, L. Peers increase adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brain’s reward circuitry: peer influence on risk taking. Dev. Sci. 14 , F1–F10 (2011).

Blakemore, S.-J. Avoiding social risk in adolescence. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 27 , 116–122 (2018).

Blakemore, S.-J. & Mills, K. L. Is adolescence a sensitive period for sociocultural processing? Annu. Rev. Psychol. 65 , 187–207 (2014). This review presents adolescence as an important stage of development characterized by changes to social cognition.

Campbell, R. et al. Multiple risk behaviour in adolescence is associated with substantial adverse health and social outcomes in early adulthood: findings from a prospective birth cohort study. Prev. Med. 138 , 106157 (2020).

Kurten, S. et al. Like to drink: dynamics of liking alcohol posts and effects on alcohol use. Comput. Hum. Behav. 129 , 107145 (2022).

Vannucci, A., Simpson, E. G., Gagnon, S. & Ohannessian, C. M. Social media use and risky behaviors in adolescents: a meta‐analysis. J. Adolesc. 79 , 258–274 (2020).

Eichhorn, K. The End of Forgetting: Growing up with Social Media (Harvard Univ. Press, 2019).

Litt, E. & Hargittai, E. The imagined audience on social network sites. Soc. Media + Society 2 , 205630511663348 (2016).

Vitak, J. The impact of context collapse and privacy on social network site disclosures. J. Broadcast. Electron. Media 56 , 451–470 (2012).

Livingstone, S. Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. N. Media Soc. 10 , 393–411 (2008).

Marciano, L., Schulz, P. J. & Camerini, A.-L. Cyberbullying perpetration and victimization in youth: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun. 25 , 163–181 (2020).

Mori, C., Temple, J. R., Browne, D. & Madigan, S. Association of sexting with sexual behaviors and mental health among adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 173 , 770 (2019).

Suler, J. The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychol. Behav. 7 , 321–326 (2004).

Wright, M. F., Harper, B. D. & Wachs, S. The associations between cyberbullying and callous-unemotional traits among adolescents: the moderating effect of online disinhibition. Pers. Individ. Differ. 140 , 41–45 (2019).

Nitschinsk, L., Tobin, S. J. & Vanman, E. J. The disinhibiting effects of anonymity increase online trolling. Cyberpsychol. Behav. Soc. Netw. 25 , 377–383 (2022).

Nadkarni, A. & Hofmann, S. G. Why do people use Facebook? Pers. Individ. Differ. 52 , 243–249 (2012).

Leary, M. R. & Kowalski, R. M. Impression management: a literature review and two-component model. Psychol. Bull. 107 , 34–47 (1990).

Zhao, S., Grasmuck, S. & Martin, J. Identity construction on Facebook: digital empowerment in anchored relationships. Comput. Hum. Behav. 24 , 1816–1836 (2008).

Bij de Vaate, N. A. J. D., Veldhuis, J. & Konijn, E. A. How online self-presentation affects well-being and body image: a systematic review. Telemat. Inform. 47 , 101316 (2020).

Reinecke, L. & Trepte, S. Authenticity and well-being on social network sites: a two-wave longitudinal study on the effects of online authenticity and the positivity bias in SNS communication. Comput. Hum. Behav. 30 , 95–102 (2014).

Twomey, C. & O’Reilly, G. Associations of self-presentation on Facebook with mental health and personality variables: a systematic review. Cyberpsychol. Behav. Soc. Netw. 20 , 587–595 (2017).

Vanden Abeele, M., Schouten, A. P. & Antheunis, M. L. Personal, editable, and always accessible: an affordance approach to the relationship between adolescents’ mobile messaging behavior and their friendship quality. J. Soc. Personal. Relatsh. 34 , 875–893 (2017).

Krause, H.-V., Baum, K., Baumann, A. & Krasnova, H. Unifying the detrimental and beneficial effects of social network site use on self-esteem: a systematic literature review. Media Psychol. 24 , 10–47 (2021).

Carr, C. T. & Foreman, A. C. Identity shift III: effects of publicness of feedback and relational closeness in computer-mediated communication. Media Psychol. 19 , 334–358 (2016).

Walther, J. B. et al. The effect of feedback on identity shift in computer-mediated communication. Media Psychol. 14 , 1–26 (2011).

Gonzales, A. L. & Hancock, J. T. Identity shift in computer-mediated environments. Media Psychol. 11 , 167–185 (2008).

Kelly, A. E. & Rodriguez, R. R. Publicly committing oneself to an identity. Basic. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 28 , 185–191 (2006).

Petre, C. E. The relationship between Internet use and self-concept clarity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cyberpsychology 15 , https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2021-2-4 (2021).

Appel, M., Schreiner, C., Weber, S., Mara, M. & Gnambs, T. Intensity of Facebook use is associated with lower self-concept clarity: cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence. J. Media Psychol. 30 , 160–172 (2018).

Talaifar, S. & Lowery, B. S. Freedom and constraint in digital environments: implications for the self. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 18 , 544–575 (2022).

West, M., Rice, S. & Vella-Brodrick, D. Mid-adolescents’ social media use: supporting and suppressing autonomy. J. Adolesc. Res . https://doi.org/10.1177/07435584231168402 (2023).

Grasmuck, S., Martin, J. & Zhao, S. Ethno-racial identity displays on Facebook. J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun. 15 , 158–188 (2009).

DeVito, M. A., Walker, A. M. & Birnholtz, J. ‘Too Gay for Facebook’: presenting LGBTQ+ identity throughout the personal social media ecosystem. Proc. ACM Hum.–Comput. Interact. 2 , 1–23 (2018).

Ellison, N., Heino, R. & Gibbs, E. Managing impressions online: self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun . 11 , https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00020.x (2006).

Hancock, J. T. in Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology (eds Joinson, A. et al.) 287–301 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009).

Davidson, B. I. & Joinson, A. N. Shape shifting across social media. Soc. Media + Society 7 , 205630512199063 (2021).

Davis, J. L. Triangulating the self: identity processes in a connected era: triangulating the self. Symbolic Interaction 37 , 500–523 (2014).

Allen, B. J., Stratman, Z. E., Kerr, B. R., Zhao, Q. & Moreno, M. A. Associations between psychosocial measures and digital media use among transgender youth: cross-sectional study. JMIR Pediatr. Parent. 4 , e25801 (2021).

Haimson, O. L. Mapping gender transition sentiment patterns via social media data: toward decreasing transgender mental health disparities. J. Am. Med. Inform. Assoc. 26 , 749–758 (2019).

Harter, S. The Construction of the Self: Developmental and Sociocultural Foundations (Guilford Press, 2012).

Crone, E. A., Green, K. H., van de Groep, I. H. & van der Cruijsen, R. A neurocognitive model of self-concept development in adolescence. Annu. Rev. Dev. Psychol. 4 , 273–295 (2022). This extensive review discusses how adolescence is an important time for self-concept development.

Pfeifer, J. H. & Peake, S. J. Self-development: integrating cognitive, socioemotional, and neuroimaging perspectives. Deve. Cognit. Neurosci. 2 , 55–69 (2012).

Sebastian, C., Burnett, S. & Blakemore, S.-J. Development of the self-concept during adolescence. Trends Cognit. Sci. 12 , 441–446 (2008).

Crocetti, E., Rubini, M., Luyckx, K. & Meeus, W. Identity formation in early and middle adolescents from various ethnic groups: from three dimensions to five statuses. J. Youth Adolesc. 37 , 983–996 (2008).

Morita, H., Griffioen, N. & Granic, I. in Handbook of Adolescent Digital Media Use and Mental Health (eds Nesi, J., Telzer, E. H. & Prinstein, M. J.) 63–84 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022).

Dumontheil, I., Apperly, I. A. & Blakemore, S.-J. Online usage of theory of mind continues to develop in late adolescence. Dev. Sci. 13 , 331–338 (2010).

Weil, L. G. et al. The development of metacognitive ability in adolescence. Conscious. Cogn. 22 , 264–271 (2013).

Moses-Payne, M. E., Chierchia, G. & Blakemore, S.-J. Age-related changes in the impact of valence on self-referential processing in female adolescents and young adults. Cognit. Dev. 61 , 101128 (2022).

Scheuplein, M. et al. Perspective taking and memory for self- and town-related information in male adolescents and young adults. Cognit. Dev. 67 , 101356 (2023).

Rodman, A. M., Powers, K. E. & Somerville, L. H. Development of self-protective biases in response to social evaluative feedback. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114 , 13158–13163 (2017).

Lee, A. Y., Mieczkowski, H., Ellison, N. B. & Hancock, J. T. The algorithmic crystal: conceptualizing the self through algorithmic personalization on TikTok. Proc. ACM Hum.–Comput. Interact. 6 , 1–22 (2022).

Thomaes, S. et al. I like me if you like me: on the interpersonal modulation and regulation of preadolescents’ state self-esteem. Child. Dev. 81 , 811–825 (2010).

Valkenburg, P. M., Peter, J. & Schouten, A. P. Friend networking sites and their relationship to adolescents’ well-being and social self-esteem. CyberPsychol. Behav. 9 , 584–590 (2006).

Kwan, I. et al. Cyberbullying and children and young people’s mental health: a systematic map of systematic reviews. Cyberpsychol. Behav. Soc. Netw. 23 , 72–82 (2020).

Przybylski, A. K. & Bowes, L. Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study. Lancet Child. Adolesc. Health 1 , 19–26 (2017).

Peters, S. et al. Social media use and the not-so-imaginary audience: behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the influence on self-concept. Dev. Cognit. Neurosci. 48 , 100921 (2021).

Wood, J. V. What is social comparison and how should we study it? Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 22 , 520–537 (1996).

Dahl, R. E., Allen, N. B., Wilbrecht, L. & Suleiman, A. B. Importance of investing in adolescence from a developmental science perspective. Nature 554 , 441–450 (2018).

Ferguson, A. M., Turner, G. & Orben, A. Social uncertainty in the digital world. Trends Cognit. Sci. 28 , 286–289 (2024).

Blease, C. R. Too many ‘friends,’ too few ‘likes’? Evolutionary psychology and ‘Facebook depression’. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 19 , 1–13 (2015).

Lee, H. Y. et al. Getting fewer “likes” than others on social media elicits emotional distress among victimized adolescents. Child. Dev. 91 , 2141–2159 (2020).

Nesi, J. & Prinstein, M. J. In search of likes: longitudinal associations between adolescents’ digital status seeking and health-risk behaviors. J. Clin. Child. Adolesc. Psychol. 48 , 740–748 (2019).

Carr, C. T., Hayes, R. A. & Sumner, E. M. Predicting a threshold of perceived Facebook post success via likes and reactions: a test of explanatory mechanisms. Commun. Res. Rep. 35 , 141–151 (2018).

Noon, E. J. & Meier, A. Inspired by friends: adolescents’ network homophily moderates the relationship between social comparison, envy, and inspiration on instagram. Cyberpsychol. Behav. Soc. Netw. 22 , 787–793 (2019).

Schreurs, L., Meier, A. & Vandenbosch, L. Exposure to the positivity bias and adolescents’ differential longitudinal links with social comparison, inspiration and envy depending on social media literacy. Curr. Psychol . https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03893-3 (2022).

Meier, A. & Krause, H.-V. Does passive social media use harm well-being? An adversarial review. J. Media Psychol. 35 , 169–180 (2023).

Nesi, J. & Prinstein, M. J. Using social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking: gender and popularity moderate associations with depressive symptoms. J. Abnorm. Child. Psychol. 43 , 1427–1438 (2015).

Lindström, B. et al. A computational reward learning account of social media engagement. Nat. Commun. 12 , 1311 (2021).

Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P. C., Vartanian, L. R. & Halliwell, E. Social comparisons on social media: the impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. Body Image 13 , 38–45 (2015).

Scully, M., Swords, L. & Nixon, E. Social comparisons on social media: online appearance-related activity and body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. Ir. J. Psychol. Med. 40 , 31–42 (2023).

Appel, H., Gerlach, A. L. & Crusius, J. The interplay between Facebook use, social comparison, envy, and depression. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 9 , 44–49 (2016).

Meier, A. & Johnson, B. K. Social comparison and envy on social media: a critical review. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 45 , 101302 (2022).

Verduyn, P., Gugushvili, N., Massar, K., Täht, K. & Kross, E. Social comparison on social networking sites. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 36 , 32–37 (2020).

Meier, A., Gilbert, A., Börner, S. & Possler, D. Instagram inspiration: how upward comparison on social network sites can contribute to well-being. J. Commun. 70 , 721–743 (2020).

Vaterlaus, J. M., Patten, E. V., Roche, C. & Young, J. A. #Gettinghealthy: the perceived influence of social media on young adult health behaviors. Comput. Hum. Behav. 45 , 151–157 (2015).

Valkenburg, P. M., Beyens, I., Pouwels, J. L., Van Driel, I. I. & Keijsers, L. Social media browsing and adolescent well-being: challenging the “passive social media use hypothesis”. J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmab015 (2022).

Larson, R. W., Richards, M. H., Moneta, G., Holmbeck, G. & Duckett, E. Changes in adolescents’ daily interactions with their families from ages 10 to 18: disengagement and transformation. Dev. Psychol. 32 , 744–754 (1996).

Sebastian, C., Viding, E., Williams, K. D. & Blakemore, S.-J. Social brain development and the affective consequences of ostracism in adolescence. Brain Cogn. 72 , 134–145 (2010).

Sebastian, C. et al. Developmental influences on the neural bases of responses to social rejection: implications of social neuroscience for education. NeuroImage 57 , 686–694 (2011).

Somerville, L. H. The teenage brain: sensitivity to social evaluation. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 22 , 121–127 (2013).

Larson, R. W. & How, U. S. Children and adolescents spend time: what it does (and doesn’t) tell us about their development. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 10 , 160–164 (2001).

Thomas, L. A., De Bellis, M. D., Graham, R. & LaBar, K. S. Development of emotional facial recognition in late childhood and adolescence. Dev. Sci. 10 , 547–558 (2007).

Gunther Moor, B., van Leijenhorst, L., Rombouts, S. A. R. B., Crone, E. A. & Van der Molen, M. W. Do you like me? Neural correlates of social evaluation and developmental trajectories. Soc. Neurosci. 5 , 461–482 (2010).

Silk, J. S. et al. Peer acceptance and rejection through the eyes of youth: pupillary, eyetracking and ecological data from the Chatroom Interact task. Soc. Cognit. Affect. Neurosci. 7 , 93–105 (2012).

Gao, S., Assink, M., Cipriani, A. & Lin, K. Associations between rejection sensitivity and mental health outcomes: a meta-analytic review. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 57 , 59–74 (2017).

Prinstein, M. J., Nesi, J. & Telzer, E. H. Commentary: an updated agenda for the study of digital media use and adolescent development—future directions following Odgers & Jensen (2020). J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatr. 61 , 349–352 (2020).

Meshi, D., Morawetz, C. & Heekeren, H. R. Nucleus accumbens response to gains in reputation for the self relative to gains for others predicts social media use. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7 , 1–11 (2013).

Crone, E. A. & Dahl, R. E. Understanding adolescence as a period of social–affective engagement and goal flexibility. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 13 , 636–650 (2012).

Platt, B., Kadosh, K. C. & Lau, J. Y. F. The role of peer rejection in adolescent depression. Depress. Anxiety 30 , 809–821 (2013).

Will, G.-J., Rutledge, R. B., Moutoussis, M. & Dolan, R. J. Neural and computational processes underlying dynamic changes in self-esteem. eLife 6 , e28098 (2017).

Macrynikola, N. & Miranda, R. Active Facebook use and mood: when digital interaction turns maladaptive. Comput. Hum. Behav. 97 , 271–279 (2019).

Grunewald, K., Deng, J., Wertz, J. & Schweizer, S. The effect of online social evaluation on mood and cognition in young people. Sci. Rep. 12 , 20999 (2022).

Andrews, J. L., Khin, A. C., Crayn, T., Humphreys, K. & Schweizer, S. Measuring online and offline social rejection sensitivity in the digital age. Psychol. Assess. 34 , 742–751 (2022).

Forest, A. L. & Wood, J. V. When social networking is not working: individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychol. Sci. 23 , 295–302 (2012).

Valkenburg, P. M., Koutamanis, M. & Vossen, H. G. M. The concurrent and longitudinal relationships between adolescents’ use of social network sites and their social self-esteem. Comput. Hum. Behav. 76 , 35–41 (2017).

Burrow, A. L. & Rainone, N. How many likes did I get? purpose moderates links between positive social media feedback and self-esteem. J. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 69 , 232–236 (2017).

Seo, M., Kim, J. & Yang, H. Frequent interaction and fast feedback predict perceived social support: using crawled and self-reported data of Facebook users. J. Comput.-Mediat. Comm. 21 , 282–297 (2016).

Fuhrmann, D., Casey, C. S., Speekenbrink, M. & Blakemore, S.-J. Social exclusion affects working memory performance in young adolescent girls. Dev. Cognit. Neurosci. 40 , 100718 (2019).

Blakemore, S.-J. & Choudhury, S. Development of the adolescent brain: implications for executive function and social cognition. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiat 47 , 296–312 (2006).

Dreyfuss, M. et al. Teens impulsively react rather than retreat from threat. Dev. Neurosci. 36 , 220–227 (2014).

Guyer, A. E., Choate, V. R., Pine, D. S. & Nelson, E. E. Neural circuitry underlying affective response to peer feedback in adolescence. Soc. Cognit. Affect. Neurosci. 7 , 81–92 (2012).

Sherman, L. E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M. & Dapretto, M. The power of the like in adolescence: effects of peer influence on neural and behavioral responses to social media. Psychol. Sci. 27 , 1027–1035 (2016).

van Harmelen, A.-L. et al. Adolescent friendships predict later resilient functioning across psychosocial domains in a healthy community cohort. Psychol. Med. 47 , 2312–2322 (2017).

Chu, P. S., Saucier, D. A. & Hafner, E. Meta-analysis of the relationships between social support and well-being in children and adolescents. J. Soc. Clin. Psychol. 29 , 624–645 (2010).

Schneider, F. M. et al. Social media ostracism: the effects of being excluded online. Comput. Hum. Behav. 73 , 385–393 (2017).

Reich, S., Schneider, F. M. & Heling, L. Zero likes—symbolic interactions and need satisfaction online. Comput. Hum. Behav. 80 , 97–102 (2018).

Lutz, S. & Schneider, F. M. Is receiving dislikes in social media still better than being ignored? The effects of ostracism and rejection on need threat and coping responses online. Media Psychol. 24 , 741–765 (2021).

Lutz, S. Why don’t you answer me? Exploring the effects of (repeated exposure to) ostracism via messengers on users’ fundamental needs, well-being, and coping motivation. Media Psychol. 26 , 113–140 (2023).

Rodríguez-Hidalgo, C. T., Tan, E. S. H., Verlegh, P. W. J., Beyens, I. & Kühne, R. Don’t stress me now: assessing the regulatory impact of face-to-face and online feedback prosociality on stress during an important life event. J. Comput.-Mediat. Commun. 25 , 307–327 (2020).

Trepte, S., Dienlin, T. & Reinecke, L. Influence of social support received in online and offline contexts on satisfaction with social support and satisfaction with life: a longitudinal study. Media Psychol. 18 , 74–105 (2015).

Dredge, R. & Schreurs, L. Social media use and offline interpersonal outcomes during youth: a systematic literature review. Mass. Commun. Soc. 23 , 885–911 (2020).

Colasante, T., Lin, L., De France, K. & Hollenstein, T. Any time and place? Digital emotional support for digital natives. Am. Psychol. 77 , 186–195 (2022).

Pouwels, J. L., Valkenburg, P. M., Beyens, I., Van Driel, I. I. & Keijsers, L. Social media use and friendship closeness in adolescents’ daily lives: an experience sampling study. Dev. Psychol. 57 , 309–323 (2021).

Mills, K. L. et al. Structural brain development between childhood and adulthood: convergence across four longitudinal samples. NeuroImage 141 , 273–281 (2016).

Tamnes, C. K. et al. Development of the cerebral cortex across adolescence: a multisample study of inter-related longitudinal changes in cortical volume, surface area, and thickness. J. Neurosci. 37 , 3402–3412 (2017).

Larsen, B. & Luna, B. Adolescence as a neurobiological critical period for the development of higher-order cognition. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 94 , 179–195 (2018).

Petanjek, Z. et al. Extraordinary neoteny of synaptic spines in the human prefrontal cortex. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108 , 13281–13286 (2011).

Cohen, J. R. et al. A unique adolescent response to reward prediction errors. Nat. Neurosci. 13 , 669–671 (2010).

Ernst, M. et al. Amygdala and nucleus accumbens in responses to receipt and omission of gains in adults and adolescents. NeuroImage 25 , 1279–1291 (2005).

Galván, A. & McGlennen, K. M. Enhanced striatal sensitivity to aversive reinforcement in adolescents versus adults. J. Cognit. Neurosci. 25 , 284–296 (2013).

Braams, B. R., Van Duijvenvoorde, A. C. K., Peper, J. S. & Crone, E. A. Longitudinal changes in adolescent risk-taking: a comprehensive study of neural responses to rewards, pubertal development, and risk-taking behavior. J. Neurosci. 35 , 7226–7238 (2015).

Schreuders, E. et al. Contributions of reward sensitivity to ventral striatum activity across adolescence and early adulthood. Child. Dev. 89 , 797–810 (2018).

Maza, M. T. et al. Association of habitual checking behaviors on social media with longitudinal functional brain development. JAMA Pediatr. 177 , 160–167 (2023).

Miller, J., Mills, K. L., Vuorre, M., Orben, A. & Przybylski, A. K. Impact of digital screen media activity on functional brain organization in late childhood: evidence from the ABCD study. Cortex 169 , 290–308 (2023).

Flayelle, M. et al. A taxonomy of technology design features that promote potentially addictive online behaviours. Nat. Rev. Psychol. 2 , 136–150 (2023).

Lupien, S. J., McEwen, B. S., Gunnar, M. R. & Heim, C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 10 , 434–445 (2009).

Gunnar, M. R., Wewerka, S., Frenn, K., Long, J. D. & Griggs, C. Developmental changes in hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal activity over the transition to adolescence: normative changes and associations with puberty. Dev. Psychopathol. 21 , 69–85 (2009).

Somerville, L. H. et al. The medial prefrontal cortex and the emergence of self-conscious emotion in adolescence. Psychol. Sci. 24 , 1554–1562 (2013).

Stroud, L. R. et al. Stress response and the adolescent transition: performance versus peer rejection stressors. Dev. Psychopathol. 21 , 47–68 (2009).

Avital, A. & Richter-Levin, G. Exposure to juvenile stress exacerbates the behavioural consequences of exposure to stress in the adult rat. Int. J. Neuropsychopharm. 8 , 163–173 (2005).

McCormick, C. M., Mathews, I. Z., Thomas, C. & Waters, P. Investigations of HPA function and the enduring consequences of stressors in adolescence in animal models. Brain Cogn. 72 , 73–85 (2010).

Eiland, L. & Romeo, R. D. Stress and the developing adolescent brain. Neuroscience 249 , 162–171 (2013).

Romeo, R. D. The teenage brain. Curr. Direc. Psychol. Sci. 22 , 140–145 (2013).

Afifi, T. D., Zamanzadeh, N., Harrison, K. & Acevedo Callejas, M. WIRED: the impact of media and technology use on stress (cortisol) and inflammation (interleukin IL-6) in fast paced families. Comput. Hum. Behav. 81 , 265–273 (2018).

Morin-Major, J. K. et al. Facebook behaviors associated with diurnal cortisol in adolescents: is befriending stressful? Psychoneuroendocrinology 63 , 238–46 (2016).

Ghai, S. It’s time to reimagine sample diversity and retire the WEIRD dichotomy. Nat. Hum. Behav. 5 , 971–972 (2021).

Munafò, M. R. & Davey Smith, G. Robust research needs many lines of evidence. Nature 553 , 399–401 (2018).

Dale, R., Warlaumont, A. S. & Johnson, K. L. The fundamental importance of method to theory. Nat. Rev. Psychol. 2 , 55–66 (2022).

Parry, D. A., Fisher, J. T., Mieczkowski, H., Sewall, C. J. R. & Davidson, B. I. Social media and well-being: a methodological perspective. Curr. Opin. Psychol. 45 , 101285 (2022).

Will, G.-J. et al. Neurocomputational mechanisms underpinning aberrant social learning in young adults with low self-esteem. Transl. Psychiatry 10 , 96 (2020).

Walther, J. B. Affordances, effects, and technology errors. Ann. Int. Commun. Assoc. 36 , 190–193 (2013).

Piray, P. & Daw, N. D. A model for learning based on the joint estimation of stochasticity and volatility. Nat. Commun. 12 , 6587 (2021).

Bronfenbrenner, U. The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design (Harvard Univ. Press, 1979).

Slater, M. D. Reinforcing spirals: the mutual influence of media selectivity and media effects and their impact on individual behavior and social identity. Commun. Theory 17 , 281–303 (2007).

Valkenburg, P. M., Peter, J. & Walther, J. B. Media effects: theory and research. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 67 , 315–338 (2016).

Aalbers, G., McNally, R. J., Heeren, A., De Wit, S. & Fried, E. I. Social media and depression symptoms: a network perspective. J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. 148 , 1454–1462 (2019).

Ghai, S., Fassi, L., Awadh, F. & Orben, A. Lack of sample diversity in research on adolescent depression and social media use: a scoping review and meta-analysis. Clin. Psychol. Sci. 11 , 759–772 (2023).

Cramer, A. O. J. et al. Major depression as a complex dynamic system. PLoS ONE 11 , e0167490 (2016).

Kendler, K. S., Zachar, P. & Craver, C. What kinds of things are psychiatric disorders? Psychol. Med. 41 , 1143–1150 (2011).

van de Leemput, I. A. et al. Critical slowing down as early warning for the onset and termination of depression. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA. 111 , 87–92 (2014).

Trepte, S. The social media privacy model: privacy and communication in the light of social media affordances. Commun. Theory 31 , 549–570 (2021).

Reinecke, L. et al. Permanently online and permanently connected: development and validation of the Online Vigilance Scale. PLoS ONE 13 , e0205384 (2018).

Trieu, P., Bayer, J. B., Ellison, N. B., Schoenebeck, S. & Falk, E. Who likes to be reachable? Availability preferences, weak ties, and bridging social capital. Inform. Commun. Soc. 22 , 1096–1111 (2019).

Daft, R. L. & Lengel, R. H. Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Manag. Sci. 32 , 554–571 (1986).

Rhee, L., Bayer, J. B., Lee, D. S. & Kuru, O. Social by definition: how users define social platforms and why it matters. Telemat. Inform. 59 , 101538 (2021).

Valkenburg, P. M. Understanding self-effects in social media: self-effects in social media. Hum. Commun. Res. 43 , 477–490 (2017).

Thorson, K. & Wells, C. Curated flows: a framework for mapping media exposure in the digital age: curated flows. Commun. Theor. 26 , 309–328 (2016).

Zhao, H. & Wagner, C. How TikTok leads users to flow experience: investigating the effects of technology affordances with user experience level and video length as moderators. INTR 33 , 820–849 (2023).

Carr, C. T., Wohn, D. Y. & Hayes, R. A. As social support: relational closeness, automaticity, and interpreting social support from paralinguistic digital affordances in social media. Comput. Hum. Behav. 62 , 385–393 (2016).

Rice, R. E. et al. Organizational media affordances: operationalization and associations with media use: organizational media affordances. J. Commun. 67 , 106–130 (2017).

Scissors, L., Burke, M. & Wengrovitz, S. in Proc. 19th ACM Conf. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing—CSCW ’16 1499–1508 (ACM Press, 2016).

Boyd, D. M. in A Networked Self: Identity, Community and Culture in Social Networking Sites (ed. Papacharissi, Z.) 35–58 (Routledge, 2011).

Valkenburg, P. M. in Handbook of Adolescent Digital Media Use and Mental Health (eds Nesi, J., Telzer, E. H. & Prinstein, M. J.) 39–60 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022).

Dennis, Fuller & Valacich, Media Tasks, and communication processes: a theory of media synchronicity. MIS Q. 32 , 575 (2008).

DeAndrea, D. C. Advancing warranting theory: advancing warranting theory. Commun. Theor. 24 , 186–204 (2014).

Uhlhaas, P. J. et al. Towards a youth mental health paradigm: a perspective and roadmap. Mol. Psychiatry 28 , 3171–3181 (2023).

Kachuri, L. et al. Principles and methods for transferring polygenic risk scores across global populations. Nat. Rev. Genet. 25 , 8–25 (2024).

Weinstein, E. C. & Selman, R. L. Digital stress: adolescents’ personal accounts. N. Media Soc. 18 , 391–409 (2016).

Steele, R. G., Hall, J. A. & Christofferson, J. L. Conceptualizing digital stress in adolescents and young adults: toward the development of an empirically based model. Clin. Child. Fam. Psychol. Rev. 23 , 15–26 (2020).

Nick, E. A. et al. Adolescent digital stress: frequencies, correlates, and longitudinal association with depressive symptoms. J. Adolesc. Health 70 , 336–339 (2022).

Van Der Schuur, W. A., Baumgartner, S. E. & Sumter, S. R. Social media use, social media stress, and sleep: examining cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships in adolescents. Health Commun. 34 , 552–559 (2019).

Fabio, S. & Sonja, P. Is cyberbullying worse than traditional bullying? Examining the differential roles of medium, publicity, and anonymity for the perceived severity of bullying. J. Youth Adolesc. 42 , 739–750 (2013).

Tokunaga, R. S. Following you home from school: a critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Comput. Hum. Behav. 26 , 277–287 (2010).

Khetawat, D. & Steele, R. G. Examining the association between digital stress components and psychological wellbeing: a meta-analysis. Clin. Child. Fam. Psychol. Rev. 26 , 957–974 (2023).

Beyens, I., Frison, E. & Eggermont, S. “I don’t want to miss a thing”: adolescents’ fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents’ social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Comput. Hum. Behav. 64 , 1–8 (2016).

Wartberg, L., Thomasius, R. & Paschke, K. The relevance of emotion regulation, procrastination, and perceived stress for problematic social media use in a representative sample of children and adolescents. Comput. Hum. Behav. 121 , 106788 (2021).

Winstone, L., Mars, B., Haworth, C. M. A. & Kidger, J. Types of social media use and digital stress in early adolescence. J. Early Adolescence 43 , 294–319 (2023).

West, M., Rice, S. & Vella-Brodrick, D. Exploring the “social” in social media: adolescent relatedness—thwarted and supported. J. Adolesc. Res . https://doi.org/10.1177/07435584211062158 (2021).

Gilbert, A., Baumgartner, S. E. & Reinecke, L. Situational boundary conditions of digital stress: goal conflict and autonomy frustration make smartphone use more stressful. Mob. Media Commun . https://doi.org/10.1177/20501579221138017 (2022).

Freytag, A. et al. Permanently online—always stressed out? The effects of permanent connectedness on stress experiences. Hum. Commun. Res. 47 , 132–165 (2021).

Johannes, N. et al. The relationship between online vigilance and affective well-being in everyday life: combining smartphone logging with experience sampling. Media Psychol. 24 , 581–605 (2021).

Reinecke, L. et al. Digital stress over the life span: the effects of communication load and internet multitasking on perceived stress and psychological health impairments in a german probability sample. Media Psychol. 20 , 90–115 (2017).

Schönbach, K. in The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects (eds Rössler, P., Hoffner, C. A. & Zoonen, L.) 1–11 (Wiley, 2017).

Mayer, J. D., Gaschke, Y. N., Braverman, D. L. & Evans, T. W. Mood-congruent judgment is a general effect. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 63 , 119–132 (1992).

Ferster, C. B. A functional analysis of depression. Am. Psychol. 28 , 857–870 (1973).

Carvalho, J. P. & Hopko, D. R. Behavioral theory of depression: reinforcement as a mediating variable between avoidance and depression. J. Behav. Ther. Exp. Psychiatry 42 , 154–162 (2011).

Helbig-Lang, S. & Petermann, F. Tolerate or eliminate? A systematic review on the effects of safety behavior across anxiety disorders. Clin. Psychol. Sci. Pract. 17 , 218–233 (2010).

Marciano, L., Driver, C. C., Schulz, P. J. & Camerini, A.-L. Dynamics of adolescents’ smartphone use and well-being are positive but ephemeral. Sci. Rep. 12 , 1316 (2022).

Rao, P. A. et al. Social anxiety disorder in childhood and adolescence: descriptive psychopathology. Behav. Res. Ther. 45 , 1181–1191 (2007).

Corning, A. F., Krumm, A. J. & Smitham, L. A. Differential social comparison processes in women with and without eating disorder symptoms. J. Couns. Psychol. 53 , 338–349 (2006).

Radovic, A., Gmelin, T., Stein, B. D. & Miller, E. Depressed adolescents’ positive and negative use of social media. J. Adolesc. 55 , 5–15 (2017).

Download references

Acknowledgements

A.O. and T.D. were funded by the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00030/13). A.O. was funded by the Jacobs Foundation and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (MR/X034925/1). S.-J.B. is funded by Wellcome (grant numbers WT107496/Z/15/Z and WT227882/Z/23/Z), the MRC, the Jacobs Foundation, the Wellspring Foundation and the University of Cambridge.

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Amy Orben & Tim Dalgleish

School of Business, Economics and Society, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen–Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany

Adrian Meier

Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Contributions

A.O. conceptualized the manuscript; A.O and A.M wrote the original draft; A.O., A.M., T.D. and S.-J.B. reviewed and edited the manuscript. All authors contributed substantially to discussion of the content, and reviewed and/or edited the manuscript before submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amy Orben .

Ethics declarations

Competing interests.

The authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information.

Nature Reviews Psychology thanks Emily Weinstein, who co-reviewed with Beck Tench; Nastasia Griffioen; and Margarita Panayiotou for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Orben, A., Meier, A., Dalgleish, T. et al. Mechanisms linking social media use to adolescent mental health vulnerability. Nat Rev Psychol (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-024-00307-y

Download citation

Accepted : 02 April 2024

Published : 07 May 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-024-00307-y

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

Quick links

  • Explore articles by subject
  • Guide to authors
  • Editorial policies

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

media psychology research paper

Media Psychology in New Era Communication

  • Conference paper
  • First Online: 23 July 2021
  • Cite this conference paper

media psychology research paper

  • Huzili Hussin   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7327-3446 6 ,
  • Adila Ismail   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6485-8071 6 &
  • Mohammad Rezal Hamzah   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4316-3518 6  

265 Accesses

Over a decade ago, media psychology emerged as a branch of discipline in psychology which studies the interaction between media technology and human beings. Nowadays, the focus of study has a shift to look at the effects of media technology on a human being. The discussion had made a significant remark to discuss what technology had done to our society critically. Psychology is the key to understand the implications of technology. Media psychologists’ goal is to find the answers and solutions by combining an understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions. However, media psychology is not just concerned with content, but it looks at the whole system. Just as the reciprocal relationship between environment, behavior, and cognition, media psychology evaluates the system’s interactive process. The rapid development of technology has triggered a variety of reactions, from enthusiasm to distrust. As technology changes our lives, we are forced to change how we view the world. The key to media psychology is you learn to understand psychology and technology. The tools of media psychology help individuals to take responsibility and part of the system. It is the only way to develop better technologies and use them well.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
  • Durable hardcover edition

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Albarracín, D., Zanna, M. P., Johnson, B. T., & Kumkale, G. T. (2005). Attitudes: Introduction and scope. In The handbook of attitudes (pp. 3–19). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Google Scholar  

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009). Media violence. Council on Communications and Media, 124 (5), 1495–1503.

Anderson, B. (2018). Social media communication . The Medium. https://medium.com/the-benefits-of-communication/social-media-communication-df695b86f166 .

Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772–790.

Article   Google Scholar  

Andreassen, C. S., & Pallesen, S. (2014). Social network site addiction—An overview. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20, 4053–4061.

Baranowski, A., & Hecht, H. (2017). One hundred years of photoplay: Hugo Münsterberg’s lasting contribution to cognitive movie psychology. Projections, 11 (2), 1–21.

Bartholow, B. D. & Bolls, P. (2013). Media psychophysiology: The brain and beyond. In The Oxford handbook of media psychology . https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195398809.013.0001 .

Bolls, P. D., Wise, K., & Bradley, S. D. (2012). Embodied motivated cognition: A theoretical framework for studying dynamic mental processes underlying advertising exposure. In Advertising theory (pp. 105–119). New York: Routledge.

Boring-Bray, W. (2018). What is the impact of media psychology? https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/what-is-the-impact-of-media-psychology/ .

Bryant, J., & Thompson, S. (2002). Fundamentals of media effects . New York: McGraw-Hill.

Book   Google Scholar  

Burke, C. (2018, January 26). Does social media affect your sleep? Science says the answer is definitely yes. Elite Daily . https://www.elitedaily.com/p/does-social-media-affect-your-sleep-science-says-the-answer-is-definitely-yes-8015656 .

Carnagey, N. L., & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Theory in the study of media violence: The general aggression model. In D. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children . Westport, CT: Praeger.

Colbow, A. (2013). Looking to the future: Integrating telemental health therapy into psychologist training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 7 (155).

De Graaf, M. (2018, January 24). Just one hour of social media a day is enough to ruin your sleeping pattern, study warns. Daily Mail . https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5304209/Just-ONE-HOUR-social-media-ruins-sleep.html .

Dill, K. E. (2013). Introduction. In The Oxford handbook of media psychology . https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195398809.013.0001 .

Fischoff, S. (2005). Media psychology: A personal essay in definition and purview . https://www.apadivisions.org/division-46/about/fischoff-media-psychology.pdf .

Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention, and behaviour: An introduction to theory and research . Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Friedman, T. L. (2016). Thank you for being late . UK: Penguin Books.

Giles, D. (2003). Media psychology . New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.

Green, M. C., & Dill, K. E. (2013). Engaging with stories and characters: Learning, persuasion, and transportation into narrative worlds. The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology . https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195398809.013.0001 .

Griffiths, M. D. (2000). Internet addiction: Time to be taken seriously? Addiction Research, 8, 413–418.

Griffiths, M. (2014). Playing video games is good for your brain—here’s how. The Conversation . https://theconversation.com/playing-video-games-is-good-for-your-brain-heres-how-34034 .

Hartney, E. (2019). How to know if you have an internet addiction and what to do about it . Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/internet-addiction-4157289 .

Hooton, H. (2015, May 13). Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish, Microsoft study finds. The Independent . https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/our-attention-span-is-now-less-than-that-of-a-goldfish-microsoft-study-finds-10247553.html .

Hou, Y., Xiong, D., Jiang, T., Song, L., & Wang, Q. (2019). Social media addiction: Its impact, mediation, and intervention. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 13 (1).

Kagan, J. (2019). Identity theft . Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/identitytheft.asp .

Krahé, B., Möller, I., Huesmann, L. R., Kirwil, L., Felber, J., & Berger, A. (2011). Desensitization to media violence: Links with habitual media violence exposure, aggressive cognitions, and aggressive behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100 (4), 630–646.

Lang, A. (2009). The limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing. In R. L. Nabi & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), The Sage handbook of media processes and effects (pp. 193–204). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Luskin, B. J. (2012). E = Enhanced Media: The psychology of eLearning through enhanced media . Luskin’s Learning Psychology Series—No. 3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-media-psychology-effect/201207/eenhanced-media .

Mehraj, H. K., Bhat, A. N., & Mehraj, H. R. (2014). Impacts of media on society: A sociological perspective. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, 3 (6), 56–64.

Microsoft. (2015). Attention spans . Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada. Retrieved from http://dl.motamem.org/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf .

Mrug, S., Madan, A., & Windle, M. (2016). Emotional desensitization to violence contributes to adolescents’ violent behaviour. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44 (1), 75–86.

Mullin, C. R., & Linz, D. (1995). Desensitization and resensitization to violence against women: Effects of exposure to sexually violent films on judgments of domestic violence victims. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 449–459.

Münsterberg, H. (1916). The photoplay: A psychological study . New York: Appleton.

National Health Service. (2018). Why lack of sleep is bad for your health . https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/ .

National Sleep Foundation. (2020). Why electronics may stimulate you before bed . https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed .

Nusca, A. (2009). Will Facebook ‘infantilize’ the human mind? CBS Interactive. https://www.zdnet.com/article/will-facebook-infantilize-the-human-mind/ .

Pantic, I., Damjanovic, A., Todorovic, J., Topalovic, D., Bojovic-Jovic, D., Ristic, S., et al. (2012). Association between online social networking and depression in high school students: Behavioural physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina, 24, 90–93.

Parent Zone. (2020). What is digital resilience and wellbeing? Parent zone’s resilience and wellbeing . https://parentzone.org.uk/article/what-digital-resilience-and-wellbeing .

Pew Research Center. (2018). The future of well-being in a tech-saturated world .

Pittaro, M. (2019, May). Exposure to media violence and emotional desensitization. What are the long-term consequences to children and adolescents? Psychology Today . https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-crime-and-justice-doctor/201905/exposure-media-violence-and-emotional-desensitization .

Polkinghorne, D. E. (2013). Qualitative research and media psychology. The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology . https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195398809.013.0001 .

Potter, W. J. (2012). Media effects . USA: Sage.

Potter, R. F., & Bolls, P. D. (2012). Psychophysiological measurement and meaning: Cognitive and emotional processing of media . New York: Routledge.

Queen Mary University of London. (2013). Playing video games can boost brain power . American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/ .

Reeves, B., & Anderson, D. R. (1991). Media studies and psychology. Communication Research, 18, 597–600.

Rutledge, P. (2010). What is media psychology? And why you should care . Media Psychology Research Center. https://www.apadivisions.org/division-46/about/rutledge-media-psychology.pdf .

Spector, N. (2018). What is identity theft? Protection, how to report fraud, and more . NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/smart-facts/ .

Starcevic, V. (2013). Is Internet addiction a useful concept? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47, 16–19.

Suler, J. R. (2002). Identity management in cyberspace. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4, 455–459.

Valentine, S. (2018). The goldfish effect: Why social media shortens our attention span . Educational Advice Educational News MyTutor for Parents. https://www.mytutor.co.uk/blog/attention-span-social-media/ .

Watson, S., & Cherney, K. (2019). The effects of sleep deprivation on your body . Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body#1 .

Weir, K. (2018). Designing smarter tech tools. Monitor on Psychology, 49 (10), 72.

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Centre of Excellence for Social Innovation and Sustainability, Faculty of Applied and Human Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Arau, Malaysia

Huzili Hussin, Adila Ismail & Mohammad Rezal Hamzah

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Huzili Hussin .

Editor information

Editors and affiliations.

Information Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Nur Fazidah Elias

Ruzzakiah Jenal

Hazilah Mohd Amin

Hazura Mohamed

Siti Aishah Hanawi

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this paper

Cite this paper.

Hussin, H., Ismail, A., Hamzah, M.R. (2021). Media Psychology in New Era Communication. In: Elias, N.F., Jenal, R., Mohd Amin, H., Mohamed, H., Hanawi, S.A. (eds) Service Excellence for Sustainability. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-2579-4_6

Download citation

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-2579-4_6

Published : 23 July 2021

Publisher Name : Springer, Singapore

Print ISBN : 978-981-16-2578-7

Online ISBN : 978-981-16-2579-4

eBook Packages : Business and Management Business and Management (R0)

Share this paper

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Publish with us

Policies and ethics

  • Find a journal
  • Track your research
  • Customers outside USA/CAN
  • Forgot password
  • Cart article/s To Cart

Testzentrale

Journal of media psychology, theories, methods, and applications.

  • ISSN L: 1864-1105
  • ISSN Print: 1864-1105
  • ISSN Online: 2151-2388

About the journal

For authors.

  • More information

Editors & editorial board

Order information, read online.

  • Advance articles
  • Current issue
  • Open access
  • Free online sample issue

Journal of Media Psychology (JMP) is committed to publishing original, high-quality papers which cover the broad range of media psychological research. This peer-reviewed journal focuses on how human beings select, use, and experience various media as well as how media (use) can affect their cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. Submissions must substantially advance the current state-of the art on a theoretical and/or an empirical level. To name just a few typical fields and domains of inquiry, the Journal of Media Psychology considers manuscripts dealing with research on entertainment, computer-mediated communication (including social media), human-computer interaction, e-learning, computer and video games, virtual environments, or advertising. The journal is also open to research from neighboring disciplines as far as this work ties in with psychological concepts of the uses and effects of the media. Submissions of comparative work, e.g., crossmedia, cross-gender, or cross-cultural, are encouraged. Moreover, submissions including alternative analysis procedures such as the Bayesian approach are welcome. Starting in 2015, the pre-registration of research plans will also be possible. To ensure short turn-around cycles for manuscript review and fast publication, the Journal of Media Psychology relies heavily upon electronic communication and information exchange, starting from electronic submission and continuing throughout the entire review and production process.

The Journal of Media Psychology builds up on almost 20 years of tradition and experience in publishing high-quality research in the Zeitschrift für Medienpsychologie (ZMP) . While ZMP focused on German and European media research, JMP takes up the challenges of the more globalized and globalizing media world by offering an international publication platform. JMP has an internationally renowned team of editors and reviewers from all the relevant areas of media psychology, to cover a broad spectrum of research and to ensure the highest scientific standards. 

Journal of Media Psychology  is archived with  Portico .

Open Access for UK authors publishing in APA PsycArticles Hogrefe is participating in the open access publishing pilot for the APA PsycArticles database in 2023-24 – this includes eligible articles accepted in Journal of Media Psychology. Learn more

Announcing a New Submission Category: Replication Reports The Editors are proud to announce a new article category, which gives you as authors the opportunity to present results of studies conducted as either exact or conceptual replications of already published research. For more information, please click here .

We are looking forward to receiving your manuscript for Journal of Media Psychology . Please read and take note of the instructions to authors before submitting your manuscript. All manuscripts should be submitted via Editorial Manager . Thank you!

Useful links:

  • Guidelines on sharing and use of articles in Hogrefe journals
  • APA style tutorials
  • OpenMind – Hogrefe’s open access program
  • Authors from UK – please see the information about open access publication under our read-and-publish agreement, in collaboration with APA and Jisc
  • Authors from Germany – please read our FAQs about Plan S compliant open access publication in our journals under a publish-and-read agreement with 100+ institutions
  • Instructions to authors (pdf download) (PDF, 254 KB)
  • Retraction policy (PDF, 207 KB)
  • Title page template (DOCX, 53 KB)

Publication Ethics

It is important to the Hogrefe Publishing Group that our scientific journals and all the people involved adhere to the highest ethical standards. Please take a moment to review our guidelines on what this means for authors, editors, reviewers, and us as a publisher.

media psychology research paper

Editing and translation services

Hogrefe has negotiated a 20% discount for authors who wish to have their manuscript professionally edited or translated into English by the experts at Enago before submission. Please note that the service is independent of Hogrefe and use of it has no bearing on acceptance decisions made by individual journals.

Journal of Media Psychology is on social media!

media psychology research paper

The editorial office keeps you regularly posted about the latest news and research in the field of media psychology – join us on X (formerly known as Twitter) , LinkedIn , and Facebook and take part in the Journal of Media Psychology community!

Call for papers

Metaverse-Mediated Communication: Theories of working, learning, and socializing through XR technologies Guest Editors: David Beyea, Vivian Hsueh Hua Chen, Rabindra Ratan, Maxwell Foxman, Alex Leith, and Brian Klebig Preliminary proposals: due December 10, 2023 Full papers: due May 15, 2024

  • Call for papers (pdf download)

Recent editorials

Emerging Adulthood and Media Use: Latest Research and Future Directions Martina Benvenuti, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, and Elvis Mazzoni Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 253-255

A Note of Thanks, and a Nod Towards Internationalization Nick Bowman Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 1-2

Innovating the Media Psychology of Interpretation, Identity, Interactivity, and Intersectionality Nicholas David Bowman and Emily Bohaty Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 63-64

Expanded Coverage and Expanding Our Editorial Team Nick Bowman Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 1-2

media psychology research paper

Nicolas David Bowman

Editor-in-Chief

Syracuse University

215 University Place

Editorial assistant

Raiana Soraia De Carvalho Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA Send email

Associate editors

Saraswathi Bellur, University of Connecticut, USA Send email

Bradley Bond, University of San Diego, USA Send email

Caleb T. Carr, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA Send email

Enny Das, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Send email

Matthew Grizzard, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA Send email

German Neubaum, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany Send email

Editorial board

Saifuddin Ahmed, Singapore  Markus Appel, Würzburg, Germany  Theo Araujo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Florian Arendt, Vienna, Austria  Rachel Bailey, Tallahassee, FL, USA Katalin E. Balint, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  Omotayo Banjo, Cincinnati, OH, USA     Jaime Banks, Syracuse, NY, USA  Anne Bartsch, Leipzig, Germany  Susanne Baumgartner, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, Columbia, MO, USA  Kathleen Beullens, Leuven, Belgium  Paul Bolls, Pullman, WA, USA  Johannes Breuer, Cologne, Germany  Rick Busselle, Bowling Green, OH, USA Christopher Carpenter, Macomb, IL, USA Liang Chen, Beijing, PR China Russell B. Clayton, Tallahassee, FL, USA  Elizabeth Cohen, Morgantown, WV, USA  Christine Cook, Taipei, Taiwan  Serena Daalmans, Nijmegen, The Netherlands  Tobias Dienlin, Vienna, Austria  Allison Eden, East Lansing, MI, USA Morgan Ellithorpe, Newark, DE, USA  Malte Elson, Bochum, Germany  David Ewoldsen, East Lansing, MI, USA  Christopher J. Ferguson, DeLand, FL, USA  Jacob T. Fisher, Urbana, IL, USA  Andrew Gambino, University Park, PA, USA  Melanie C. Green, Buffalo, NY, USA  Lindsay Hahn, Buffalo, NY, USA Rebecca Hayes, Normal, IL, USA Dorothee Hefner, Hannover, Germany  Matthias Hofer, Zurich, Switzerland  Richard Huskey, Davis, CA, USA  Juan José Igartua, Salamanca, Spain  James D. Ivory, Blacksburg, VA, USA  Sophie Janicke-Bowles, Orange, CA, USA  Jeroen Jansz, Rotterdam, The Netherlands  Benjamin K. Johnson, Gainesville, FL, USA  Adam Kahn, Long Beach, CA, USA  Justin Keene, Lubbock, TX, USA  Jinhee Kim, Pohang, South Korea  Christoph Klimmt, Hannover, Germany Kevin Koban, Vienna, Austria Julia Kneer, Rotterdam, The Netherlands  Maja Krakowiak, Colorado Springs, CO, USA  Nicole Krämer, Duisburg, Germany  Valerie Ellen Kretz, De Pere, WI, USA  Asheley R. Landrum, Lubbock, TX, USA  Yu-Hao Lee, Gainsville, FL, USA JihHsuan Tammy Lin, Taipei, Taiwan  Bingjie Liu, Los Angeles, CA, USA  Jörg Matthes , Vienna, Austria  Adrian Meier, Nuremberg, Germany  André Melzer, Luxembourg  María D. Molina, East Lansing, MI, USA Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, Mansfield, CT, USA  Sara Pabian, Tilburg, The Netherlands Christina Peter, Munich, Germany  Jochen Peter, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  Daniel Pietschmann, Chemnitz, Germany  Rob Potter, Bloomington, IN, USA  Srividya Ramasubramanian, Syracuse, NY, USA  Arthur A. Raney, Buffalo, NY, USA  Leonard Reinecke, Mainz, Germany  Diana Rieger, Munich, Germany  Meghan S. Sanders, Baton Rouge, LA, USA  Desiree Schmuck, Leuven, Belgium  Frank Schneider, Mannheim, Germany  Holger Schramm, Würzburg, Germany  Stephan Schwan, Tübingen, Germany  Michael Slater, Columbus, OH, USA  Tim Smits, Leuven, Belgium Joanna Strycharz, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Los Angeles, CA, USA Freya Sukalla, Leipzig, Germany  Ron Tamborini, East Lansing, MI, USA  Catalina Toma, Madison, WI, USA  Sabine Trepte, Hohenheim, Germany  Sonja Utz, Tübingen, Germany  Sebastián Valenzuela, Santiago de Chile, Chile  Heidi Vandebosch, Antwerp, Belgium Laura Vandenbosch, Leuven, Belgium Brandon Van Der Heide, East Lansing, MI, USA  Megan Vendemia, Morgantown, WV, USA Ivar Vermeulen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  Christian von Sikorski, Landau, Germany  Peter Vorderer, Mannheim, Germany  Rene Weber, Santa Barbara, CA, USA  Elisa Wegmann, Duisburg-Essen, Germany Tim Wulf, Munich, Germany Mike Yao, Hong Kong

The   Journal of Media Psychology  is published bimonthly, online.

Subscriptions generally run from January to December.

For individual and institutional customers, online access to the subscribed journal is included in the annual subscription rate. The online access is valid for the duration of the subscription.

Further information on our subscription conditions can be found in the Information for subscribers or in our current journals catalog .

Individuals 2024

Single issue 2024.

Single online issues may be purchased online at  Hogrefe eContent. Single print copies of back issues (up to 06/2023) may be ordered (subject to availability) using this order enquiry form. Please specify the desired volume number and issue number when ordering.

Institutions 2024

Prices for institutions depend on the size of the institution and can be found in the table below. Further information and prices for journal subscriptions can be found in our journals catalog – or contact us via email for a price quote.

Prices for institutions

whatsapp

  • Search Menu
  • Browse content in Arts and Humanities
  • Browse content in Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology
  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques
  • Archaeology by Region
  • Archaeology of Religion
  • Archaeology of Trade and Exchange
  • Biblical Archaeology
  • Contemporary and Public Archaeology
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology
  • History and Theory of Archaeology
  • Industrial Archaeology
  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Mortuary Archaeology
  • Prehistoric Archaeology
  • Underwater Archaeology
  • Urban Archaeology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Browse content in Architecture
  • Architectural Structure and Design
  • History of Architecture
  • Residential and Domestic Buildings
  • Theory of Architecture
  • Browse content in Art
  • Art Subjects and Themes
  • History of Art
  • Industrial and Commercial Art
  • Theory of Art
  • Biographical Studies
  • Byzantine Studies
  • Browse content in Classical Studies
  • Classical History
  • Classical Philosophy
  • Classical Mythology
  • Classical Literature
  • Classical Reception
  • Classical Art and Architecture
  • Classical Oratory and Rhetoric
  • Greek and Roman Papyrology
  • Greek and Roman Epigraphy
  • Greek and Roman Law
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Late Antiquity
  • Religion in the Ancient World
  • Digital Humanities
  • Browse content in History
  • Colonialism and Imperialism
  • Diplomatic History
  • Environmental History
  • Genealogy, Heraldry, Names, and Honours
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • Historical Geography
  • History by Period
  • History of Emotions
  • History of Agriculture
  • History of Education
  • History of Gender and Sexuality
  • Industrial History
  • Intellectual History
  • International History
  • Labour History
  • Legal and Constitutional History
  • Local and Family History
  • Maritime History
  • Military History
  • National Liberation and Post-Colonialism
  • Oral History
  • Political History
  • Public History
  • Regional and National History
  • Revolutions and Rebellions
  • Slavery and Abolition of Slavery
  • Social and Cultural History
  • Theory, Methods, and Historiography
  • Urban History
  • World History
  • Browse content in Language Teaching and Learning
  • Language Learning (Specific Skills)
  • Language Teaching Theory and Methods
  • Browse content in Linguistics
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics
  • History of English
  • Language Evolution
  • Language Reference
  • Language Acquisition
  • Language Variation
  • Language Families
  • Lexicography
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Linguistic Theories
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Writing Systems
  • Browse content in Literature
  • Bibliography
  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Studies (Romanticism)
  • Literary Studies (American)
  • Literary Studies (Asian)
  • Literary Studies (European)
  • Literary Studies (Eco-criticism)
  • Literary Studies (Modernism)
  • Literary Studies - World
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (African American Literature)
  • Literary Studies (British and Irish)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)
  • Literary Studies (Gender Studies)
  • Literary Studies (Graphic Novels)
  • Literary Studies (History of the Book)
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)
  • Literary Studies (Postcolonial Literature)
  • Literary Studies (Queer Studies)
  • Literary Studies (Science Fiction)
  • Literary Studies (Travel Literature)
  • Literary Studies (War Literature)
  • Literary Studies (Women's Writing)
  • Literary Theory and Cultural Studies
  • Mythology and Folklore
  • Shakespeare Studies and Criticism
  • Browse content in Media Studies
  • Browse content in Music
  • Applied Music
  • Dance and Music
  • Ethics in Music
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Gender and Sexuality in Music
  • Medicine and Music
  • Music Cultures
  • Music and Media
  • Music and Religion
  • Music and Culture
  • Music Education and Pedagogy
  • Music Theory and Analysis
  • Musical Scores, Lyrics, and Libretti
  • Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques
  • Musicology and Music History
  • Performance Practice and Studies
  • Race and Ethnicity in Music
  • Sound Studies
  • Browse content in Performing Arts
  • Browse content in Philosophy
  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
  • Epistemology
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Non-Western Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Perception
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Action
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic
  • Practical Ethics
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Browse content in Religion
  • Biblical Studies
  • Christianity
  • East Asian Religions
  • History of Religion
  • Judaism and Jewish Studies
  • Qumran Studies
  • Religion and Education
  • Religion and Health
  • Religion and Politics
  • Religion and Science
  • Religion and Law
  • Religion and Art, Literature, and Music
  • Religious Studies
  • Browse content in Society and Culture
  • Cookery, Food, and Drink
  • Cultural Studies
  • Customs and Traditions
  • Ethical Issues and Debates
  • Hobbies, Games, Arts and Crafts
  • Lifestyle, Home, and Garden
  • Natural world, Country Life, and Pets
  • Popular Beliefs and Controversial Knowledge
  • Sports and Outdoor Recreation
  • Technology and Society
  • Travel and Holiday
  • Visual Culture
  • Browse content in Law
  • Arbitration
  • Browse content in Company and Commercial Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Company Law
  • Browse content in Comparative Law
  • Systems of Law
  • Competition Law
  • Browse content in Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • Government Powers
  • Judicial Review
  • Local Government Law
  • Military and Defence Law
  • Parliamentary and Legislative Practice
  • Construction Law
  • Contract Law
  • Browse content in Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Evidence Law
  • Sentencing and Punishment
  • Employment and Labour Law
  • Environment and Energy Law
  • Browse content in Financial Law
  • Banking Law
  • Insolvency Law
  • History of Law
  • Human Rights and Immigration
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Browse content in International Law
  • Private International Law and Conflict of Laws
  • Public International Law
  • IT and Communications Law
  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law
  • Law and Politics
  • Law and Society
  • Browse content in Legal System and Practice
  • Courts and Procedure
  • Legal Skills and Practice
  • Primary Sources of Law
  • Regulation of Legal Profession
  • Medical and Healthcare Law
  • Browse content in Policing
  • Criminal Investigation and Detection
  • Police and Security Services
  • Police Procedure and Law
  • Police Regional Planning
  • Browse content in Property Law
  • Personal Property Law
  • Study and Revision
  • Terrorism and National Security Law
  • Browse content in Trusts Law
  • Wills and Probate or Succession
  • Browse content in Medicine and Health
  • Browse content in Allied Health Professions
  • Arts Therapies
  • Clinical Science
  • Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Operating Department Practice
  • Physiotherapy
  • Radiography
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Browse content in Anaesthetics
  • General Anaesthesia
  • Neuroanaesthesia
  • Clinical Neuroscience
  • Browse content in Clinical Medicine
  • Acute Medicine
  • Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Clinical Genetics
  • Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • Gastroenterology
  • Genito-urinary Medicine
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Pain Medicine
  • Palliative Medicine
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Respiratory Medicine and Pulmonology
  • Rheumatology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Sports and Exercise Medicine
  • Community Medical Services
  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Haematology
  • History of Medicine
  • Browse content in Medical Skills
  • Clinical Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Nursing Skills
  • Surgical Skills
  • Browse content in Medical Dentistry
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Paediatric Dentistry
  • Restorative Dentistry and Orthodontics
  • Surgical Dentistry
  • Medical Ethics
  • Medical Statistics and Methodology
  • Browse content in Neurology
  • Clinical Neurophysiology
  • Neuropathology
  • Nursing Studies
  • Browse content in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Gynaecology
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Otolaryngology (ENT)
  • Browse content in Paediatrics
  • Neonatology
  • Browse content in Pathology
  • Chemical Pathology
  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics
  • Histopathology
  • Medical Microbiology and Virology
  • Patient Education and Information
  • Browse content in Pharmacology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Browse content in Popular Health
  • Caring for Others
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Self-help and Personal Development
  • Browse content in Preclinical Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Reproduction, Growth and Development
  • Primary Care
  • Professional Development in Medicine
  • Browse content in Psychiatry
  • Addiction Medicine
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Old Age Psychiatry
  • Psychotherapy
  • Browse content in Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health
  • Browse content in Radiology
  • Clinical Radiology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Browse content in Surgery
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Gastro-intestinal and Colorectal Surgery
  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Paediatric Surgery
  • Peri-operative Care
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology
  • Transplant Surgery
  • Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Browse content in Science and Mathematics
  • Browse content in Biological Sciences
  • Aquatic Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Natural History
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry
  • Research Methods in Life Sciences
  • Structural Biology
  • Systems Biology
  • Zoology and Animal Sciences
  • Browse content in Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Crystallography
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Mineralogy and Gems
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Polymer Chemistry
  • Study and Communication Skills in Chemistry
  • Theoretical Chemistry
  • Browse content in Computer Science
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Architecture and Logic Design
  • Game Studies
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mathematical Theory of Computation
  • Programming Languages
  • Software Engineering
  • Systems Analysis and Design
  • Virtual Reality
  • Browse content in Computing
  • Business Applications
  • Computer Security
  • Computer Games
  • Computer Networking and Communications
  • Digital Lifestyle
  • Graphical and Digital Media Applications
  • Operating Systems
  • Browse content in Earth Sciences and Geography
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Environmental Geography
  • Geology and the Lithosphere
  • Maps and Map-making
  • Meteorology and Climatology
  • Oceanography and Hydrology
  • Palaeontology
  • Physical Geography and Topography
  • Regional Geography
  • Soil Science
  • Urban Geography
  • Browse content in Engineering and Technology
  • Agriculture and Farming
  • Biological Engineering
  • Civil Engineering, Surveying, and Building
  • Electronics and Communications Engineering
  • Energy Technology
  • Engineering (General)
  • Environmental Science, Engineering, and Technology
  • History of Engineering and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering and Materials
  • Technology of Industrial Chemistry
  • Transport Technology and Trades
  • Browse content in Environmental Science
  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Conservation of the Environment (Environmental Science)
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Environmentalist Thought and Ideology (Environmental Science)
  • Management of Land and Natural Resources (Environmental Science)
  • Natural Disasters (Environmental Science)
  • Nuclear Issues (Environmental Science)
  • Pollution and Threats to the Environment (Environmental Science)
  • Social Impact of Environmental Issues (Environmental Science)
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Browse content in Materials Science
  • Ceramics and Glasses
  • Composite Materials
  • Metals, Alloying, and Corrosion
  • Nanotechnology
  • Browse content in Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Biomathematics and Statistics
  • History of Mathematics
  • Mathematical Education
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Mathematical Analysis
  • Numerical and Computational Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Pure Mathematics
  • Browse content in Neuroscience
  • Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience
  • Development of the Nervous System
  • Disorders of the Nervous System
  • History of Neuroscience
  • Invertebrate Neurobiology
  • Molecular and Cellular Systems
  • Neuroendocrinology and Autonomic Nervous System
  • Neuroscientific Techniques
  • Sensory and Motor Systems
  • Browse content in Physics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Biological and Medical Physics
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Computational Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electromagnetism, Optics, and Acoustics
  • History of Physics
  • Mathematical and Statistical Physics
  • Measurement Science
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Particles and Fields
  • Plasma Physics
  • Quantum Physics
  • Relativity and Gravitation
  • Semiconductor and Mesoscopic Physics
  • Browse content in Psychology
  • Affective Sciences
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Criminal and Forensic Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • History and Systems in Psychology
  • Music Psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Psychological Assessment and Testing
  • Psychology of Human-Technology Interaction
  • Psychology Professional Development and Training
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Browse content in Social Sciences
  • Browse content in Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Human Evolution
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Regional Anthropology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Theory and Practice of Anthropology
  • Browse content in Business and Management
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Strategy
  • Business History
  • Business and Technology
  • Business and Government
  • Business and the Environment
  • Comparative Management
  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Industrial and Employment Relations
  • Industry Studies
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • International Business
  • Knowledge Management
  • Management and Management Techniques
  • Operations Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Pensions and Pension Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Management
  • Strategic Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Browse content in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Forms of Crime
  • International and Comparative Criminology
  • Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
  • Development Studies
  • Browse content in Economics
  • Agricultural, Environmental, and Natural Resource Economics
  • Asian Economics
  • Behavioural Finance
  • Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics
  • Econometrics and Mathematical Economics
  • Economic History
  • Economic Systems
  • Economic Methodology
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Financial Markets
  • Financial Institutions and Services
  • General Economics and Teaching
  • Health, Education, and Welfare
  • History of Economic Thought
  • International Economics
  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • Law and Economics
  • Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
  • Microeconomics
  • Public Economics
  • Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
  • Welfare Economics
  • Browse content in Education
  • Adult Education and Continuous Learning
  • Care and Counselling of Students
  • Early Childhood and Elementary Education
  • Educational Equipment and Technology
  • Educational Strategies and Policy
  • Higher and Further Education
  • Organization and Management of Education
  • Philosophy and Theory of Education
  • Schools Studies
  • Secondary Education
  • Teaching of a Specific Subject
  • Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs
  • Teaching Skills and Techniques
  • Browse content in Environment
  • Applied Ecology (Social Science)
  • Climate Change
  • Conservation of the Environment (Social Science)
  • Environmentalist Thought and Ideology (Social Science)
  • Natural Disasters (Environment)
  • Social Impact of Environmental Issues (Social Science)
  • Browse content in Human Geography
  • Cultural Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Political Geography
  • Browse content in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Communication Studies
  • Museums, Libraries, and Information Sciences
  • Browse content in Politics
  • African Politics
  • Asian Politics
  • Chinese Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Conflict Politics
  • Elections and Electoral Studies
  • Environmental Politics
  • European Union
  • Foreign Policy
  • Gender and Politics
  • Human Rights and Politics
  • Indian Politics
  • International Relations
  • International Organization (Politics)
  • International Political Economy
  • Irish Politics
  • Latin American Politics
  • Middle Eastern Politics
  • Political Behaviour
  • Political Economy
  • Political Institutions
  • Political Methodology
  • Political Communication
  • Political Philosophy
  • Political Sociology
  • Political Theory
  • Politics and Law
  • Public Policy
  • Public Administration
  • Quantitative Political Methodology
  • Regional Political Studies
  • Russian Politics
  • Security Studies
  • State and Local Government
  • UK Politics
  • US Politics
  • Browse content in Regional and Area Studies
  • African Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Japanese Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Native American Studies
  • Scottish Studies
  • Browse content in Research and Information
  • Research Methods
  • Browse content in Social Work
  • Addictions and Substance Misuse
  • Adoption and Fostering
  • Care of the Elderly
  • Child and Adolescent Social Work
  • Couple and Family Social Work
  • Developmental and Physical Disabilities Social Work
  • Direct Practice and Clinical Social Work
  • Emergency Services
  • Human Behaviour and the Social Environment
  • International and Global Issues in Social Work
  • Mental and Behavioural Health
  • Social Justice and Human Rights
  • Social Policy and Advocacy
  • Social Work and Crime and Justice
  • Social Work Macro Practice
  • Social Work Practice Settings
  • Social Work Research and Evidence-based Practice
  • Welfare and Benefit Systems
  • Browse content in Sociology
  • Childhood Studies
  • Community Development
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
  • Economic Sociology
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Gerontology and Ageing
  • Health, Illness, and Medicine
  • Marriage and the Family
  • Migration Studies
  • Occupations, Professions, and Work
  • Organizations
  • Population and Demography
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Social Theory
  • Social Movements and Social Change
  • Social Research and Statistics
  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Sociology of Education
  • Sport and Leisure
  • Urban and Rural Studies
  • Browse content in Warfare and Defence
  • Defence Strategy, Planning, and Research
  • Land Forces and Warfare
  • Military Administration
  • Military Life and Institutions
  • Naval Forces and Warfare
  • Other Warfare and Defence Issues
  • Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
  • Weapons and Equipment

The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

Karen E. Dill, School of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University

  • Cite Icon Cite
  • Permissions Icon Permissions

The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology explores facets of human behavior, thoughts, and feelings experienced in the context of media use and creation. Divided into six sections, chapters in this volume trace the history of media psychology; address content areas for media research, including children's media use, media violence and desensitization, sexual content, video game violence, and portrayals of race and gender; and cover psychological and physical effects of media such as serious games, games for health, technology addictions, and video games and attention. A section on meta-issues in media psychology brings together transportation theory, media psychophysiology, social influence in virtual worlds, and learning through persuasion. Other topics include the politics of media psychology, a lively debate about the future of media psychology methods, and the challenges and opportunities present in this interdisciplinary field.

Signed in as

Institutional accounts.

  • GoogleCrawler [DO NOT DELETE]
  • Google Scholar Indexing

Personal account

  • Sign in with email/username & password
  • Get email alerts
  • Save searches
  • Purchase content
  • Activate your purchase/trial code

Institutional access

  • Sign in with a library card Sign in with username/password Recommend to your librarian
  • Institutional account management
  • Get help with access

Access to content on Oxford Academic is often provided through institutional subscriptions and purchases. If you are a member of an institution with an active account, you may be able to access content in one of the following ways:

IP based access

Typically, access is provided across an institutional network to a range of IP addresses. This authentication occurs automatically, and it is not possible to sign out of an IP authenticated account.

Sign in through your institution

Choose this option to get remote access when outside your institution. Shibboleth/Open Athens technology is used to provide single sign-on between your institution’s website and Oxford Academic.

  • Click Sign in through your institution.
  • Select your institution from the list provided, which will take you to your institution's website to sign in.
  • When on the institution site, please use the credentials provided by your institution. Do not use an Oxford Academic personal account.
  • Following successful sign in, you will be returned to Oxford Academic.

If your institution is not listed or you cannot sign in to your institution’s website, please contact your librarian or administrator.

Sign in with a library card

Enter your library card number to sign in. If you cannot sign in, please contact your librarian.

Society Members

Society member access to a journal is achieved in one of the following ways:

Sign in through society site

Many societies offer single sign-on between the society website and Oxford Academic. If you see ‘Sign in through society site’ in the sign in pane within a journal:

  • Click Sign in through society site.
  • When on the society site, please use the credentials provided by that society. Do not use an Oxford Academic personal account.

If you do not have a society account or have forgotten your username or password, please contact your society.

Sign in using a personal account

Some societies use Oxford Academic personal accounts to provide access to their members. See below.

A personal account can be used to get email alerts, save searches, purchase content, and activate subscriptions.

Some societies use Oxford Academic personal accounts to provide access to their members.

Viewing your signed in accounts

Click the account icon in the top right to:

  • View your signed in personal account and access account management features.
  • View the institutional accounts that are providing access.

Signed in but can't access content

Oxford Academic is home to a wide variety of products. The institutional subscription may not cover the content that you are trying to access. If you believe you should have access to that content, please contact your librarian.

For librarians and administrators, your personal account also provides access to institutional account management. Here you will find options to view and activate subscriptions, manage institutional settings and access options, access usage statistics, and more.

Our books are available by subscription or purchase to libraries and institutions.

  • About Oxford Academic
  • Publish journals with us
  • University press partners
  • What we publish
  • New features  
  • Open access
  • Rights and permissions
  • Accessibility
  • Advertising
  • Media enquiries
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Languages
  • University of Oxford

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide

  • Copyright © 2024 Oxford University Press
  • Cookie settings
  • Cookie policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Legal notice

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

Research in Media Psychology

Main navigation.

The Stanford Department of Communication has long been a pioneer in studying the relationships between digital media, psychology and behavior. In the early nineties, Clifford Nass and his graduate students were among the first in the world to empirically examine constructs such as agency and anthropomorphism. Soon thereafter Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass published their landmark book,  The Media Equation , which set the stage for a new research paradigm based on the notion that the brain has not evolved to differentiate mediated experiences from actual ones. Indeed, one of the fastest growing divisions of the International Communication Association, Communication and Technology, is substantially based on the work of Stanford scholars.

Currently, the area focuses on a number of ways in which digital media affect people.  Jeremy Bailenson  directs the  Virtual Human Interaction Lab  and studies the phenomenon of digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive virtual reality.  Jeff Hancock  uses computational linguistics to analyze interpersonal relations in social media.  Gabriella Harari  studies the ways the digital technologies we use everyday reveal our personality structures and shape our life outcomes.  Nilam Ram  studies the dynamic interplay between psychological and media processes and how they change from moment-to-moment and across the life span.  Byron Reeves  utilizes physiological measures to understand media effects in multiplayer game technology, and develops applications for using those networked games to address critical issues such as global warming.

Students and faculty in the media psychology area collaborate frequently with other departments on campus. Current Communication faculty have active collaborations with scholars in computer science, education, psychology, engineering, linguistics, the business school, and MediaX. The department also draws a steady stream of visits from new media technology researchers.

Faculty — Media Psychology

Postdoctoral Scholars — Media Psychology

Doctoral Students — Media Psychology

Selected Graduates in Academia

  • Mark Miller, Ph.D. 2023. Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Mu-Jung Cho , Ph.D. 2020. Postdoc, Stanford School of Medicine, Pediatrics
  • Dave Miller , Ph.D. 2019. Postdoc, Cornell University
  • Dave Markowitz , Ph.D. 2018. Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Oregon
  • Jakki Bailey , Ph.D. 2017. Assistant Professor, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
  • Rene Kizilcec , Ph.D. 2017, Assistant Professor, Information School, Cornell University
  • James Scarborough , Ph.D. 2017, Lecturer, Department of Communication, Cal Poly
  • James Cummings , Ph.D. 2016. Assistant Professor, Emerging Media Studies, Boston University
  • Jamy Li , Ph.D. 2016. Assistant Professor, Human Media Interaction, University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Andrea Stevenson Won , Ph.D. 2016. Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Cornell University
  • Yeon Joo , Ph.D. 2014, Associate Professor, Department of Digital Media, Myungji University
  • Dean Eckles , Ph.D. 2012, Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Kathryn Segovia , Ph.D. 2012, Head of Learning Experience Design, Stanford d.school
  • Grace Ahn , Ph.D. 2011, Associate Professor, College of Journalism, University of Georgia
  • Jesse Fox , Ph.D. 2010, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, The Ohio State University
  • Roselyn Jong-Eun Lee-Won , Ph.D. 2009, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, The Ohio State University
  • Leila Takayama , Ph.D. 2008, Associate Professor, Psychology, University of California Santa Cruz
  • Sohye Lim , Ph.D. 2006, Associate Professor, EWHA Women’s University
  • Kevin Wise , Ph.D. 2004, Associate Professor, Department of Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Eun-Ju Lee , Ph.D. 2000, Professor, Seoul National University
  • Katherine Isbister , Ph.D. 1998, Professor, Department of Computational Media at University of California Santa Cruz
  • Osei Appiah , Ph.D. 1998, Professor, School of Communication, The Ohio State University
  • Brian Fogg , Ph.D. 1997, Research Scholar, Stanford
  • Youngme Moon , Ph.D. 1996, Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School
  • Benjamin Detenber , Ph.D. 1995, Professor, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University
  • S. Shyam Sundar , Ph.D. 1995, Distinguished Professor, Penn State University
  • Glenn Leshner , Ph.D. 1994, Professor, College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Oklahoma University
  • Michael Basil , Ph.D. 1992, Professor, School of Business, University of Lethbridge
  • Barbara Brown , Ph.D. 1989, School of Business, San Jose State (retired)
  • Michael Slater , Ph.D. 1988, Director and Professor, School of Communication, The Ohio State University

Selected Graduates in Industry and Nonprofit

  • Hanseul Jun, Ph.D. 2022. Software Engineer, Apple
  • Mufan Luo , Ph.D. 2021. Robinhood
  • Annabelle Ho , Ph.D. 2019, UX Researcher, Google
  • Catherine Oh , Ph.D. 2019, Researcher, Google
  • Megan French , Ph.D. 2018, UX Researcher, Facebook
  • Ketaki Shriram , Ph.D. 2017, CTO, Krikey
  • Leo Yeykelis , Ph.D. 2015, Head of UX Research, VMWare
  • Lorin Dole , Ph.D. 2011, UX Researcher, Google
  • Helen Harris , Ph.D. 2011, UX Research Manager, Google
  • Jiang Hu , Ph.D. 2011, Oracle
  • Katherine Murray , Ph.D. 2011
  • Victoria Groom , Ph.D. 2010
  • Shailendra Rao , Ph.D. 2010, Uber
  • Vanessa Vega , Ph.D. 2010, Research Associate, Rockman Et Al
  • Jane Wang , Ph.D. 2010
  • David Danielson , Ph.D. 2008
  • Nick Yee , Ph.D. 2007, Co-Founder and Analytics Lead, Quantic Foundry
  • Eva Jettmar , Ph.D. 2006
  • Scott Brave , Ph.D. 2003, CTO, Fullcontact, Inc.
  • Li Gong , Ph.D. 2001, Researcher, SAP
  • Raoul Rickenberg , Ph.D. 1999
  • Peter Orton , Ph.D. 1995, Media Research Scientist, IBM (retired)
  • David Voelker , Ph.D. 1994, Strategic Communication Consultant
  • Seth Geiger , Ph.D. 1990, President, Smith-Geiger Media Research
  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content

Media Psychology Research Center

Media Psychology: The Psychology of Media Behavior

Dr. Erik M. Gregory

Dr. pamela rutledge, dr. scott garner, dr. marc giudici, dr. cynthia hagan, dr. jerri lynn hogg.

  • Inspiration

What is Media Psychology?

  • Positive Media Psychology
  • Making Positive Media for Social Change
  • Qualitative Research
  • Expanding Media Literacy for a Transmedia World
  • Dr. Pam/Substack
  • Rutledge in the News
  • Webinars & Podcasts

media psychology research paper

Media Psychology

Behavioral science for living and flourishing in a digital world

WHY MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY?

Media psychology applies psychological science to study and harness the power of media technologies. By understanding core human needs and goals, we can better understand the social and individual experience and impact of media and technology.  This can inform positive choices in use and design.  Media psychology adds a valuable perspective to a wide range of applications in today’s world, from entertainment, mobile and interactive media, and social media to persuasive messaging and audience engagement.

media psychology research paper

Want to Know Your Audience Better?

Find out what media psychology can do for you.

Media psychology makes sense of a complex world by looking at the why of human behavior that is motivating the what that we observe and measure. This understanding has a tangible impact when you want to create effective content, assess emotions, design experience, and inspire audiences.  Applications include:

  • Audience Response to Media Content
  • Mobile App and Interactive Media Assessment
  • Creating a Brand Story
  • Communicating the Right Content on the Right Platform
  • Best Practices for a Healthy Relationship with Media
  • The Influence of Media on Conflict

MPRC Research Team

Our research team collaborates with a network of media psychologists who are among the top in the field.

Dr. Pamela Rutledge

Dr. Pamela Rutledge Read More

media psychology research paper

Executive Director

Dr. Erik M. Gregory Read More

media psychology research paper

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Jerri Lynn Hogg Read More

Scott Garner

Dr. Scott Garner Read More

media psychology research paper

Dr. Marc Giudici Read More

media psychology research paper

Dr. Cynthia Hagan Read More

Want to Know More?

The MPRC researches, field-tests and advises on media strategy, application impact, media literacy curricula and training programs. We are working to make our Research Center a hands-on, long-term partner with other world-class organizations. We are happy to share our knowledge and collaborate on potential media research projects.

CONTACT US NOW

IMAGES

  1. 💐 How to write a psychology research paper. 6 Tips For Crafting A

    media psychology research paper

  2. Research Paper Project

    media psychology research paper

  3. ️ Psychology paper titles. 123 Psychology Research Paper Topics Ideas

    media psychology research paper

  4. 💐 How to write a psychology research paper. 6 Tips For Crafting A

    media psychology research paper

  5. 💋 Psychology paper. [PDF] Positive psychology. An introduction.. 2022-10-16

    media psychology research paper

  6. Media Psychology by Gayle Brewer, Paperback, 9780230279209

    media psychology research paper

VIDEO

  1. Media & Psychology| Introduction to media psychology| Handwritten Notes PDF| Sakshi Kaushik

  2. Psychological Research: Crash Course Psychology #2

  3. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction

  4. How to write a psychological research report

  5. Media Psychology

  6. What is #Media Psychology?

COMMENTS

  1. Media Psychology

    Media Psychology is an interdisciplinary journal devoted to publishing theoretically oriented, empirical research that is at the intersection of psychology and media/mediated communication. Research topics include media uses, processes, and effects. Reports of empirical research, theory papers, state-of-the-art reviews, replication studies and meta-analyses that provide a major synthesis of ...

  2. Mechanisms linking social media use to adolescent mental ...

    Research linking social media use and adolescent mental health has produced mixed and inconsistent findings and little translational evidence, despite pressure to deliver concrete recommendations ...

  3. Media Psychology in New Era Communication

    Media psychology uses psychology theories, principles, and techniques to research the effect mass media have on people, communities, and cultures (Fischoff, 2005).It is concerned with the interpersonal and intrapersonal psychological aspects that underlie the effect and use of any communication medium, regardless of the nature of the subject matter being communicated.

  4. Journal of Media Psychology

    Journal of Media Psychology (JMP) is committed to publishing original, high-quality papers which cover the broad range of media psychological research. This peer-reviewed journal focuses on how human beings select, use, and experience various media as well as how media (use) can affect their cognitions, emotions, and behaviors.

  5. The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology

    The definitive international reference work on how communication technology and media phenomena affect human psychology. The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology provides a thorough guide to the foundational theories and the exciting new developments within this dynamic field—a growing area of study that investigates how and why human behavior is influenced by interacting with ...

  6. The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

    Abstract. The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology explores facets of human behavior, thoughts, and feelings experienced in the context of media use and creation. Divided into six sections, chapters in this volume trace the history of media psychology; address content areas for media research, including children's media use, media violence and ...

  7. 1792 PDFs

    Engaging the world of psychology, culture, and media (traditional and new media) in innovative ways. | Explore the latest full-text research PDFs, articles, conference papers, preprints and more ...

  8. Frontiers in Psychology

    Educational Games and Game-based Approaches in Hybrid, Online, and Offline Learning Environments. Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef. Dr Kinshuk. Lobna Hassan. Paula Toledo Palomino. 18,025 views. 4 articles. Explores the psychological processes relating to the consumption of different forms of media from television and film, to social media and the ...

  9. Psychology of Popular Media

    Psychology of Popular Media ® is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal dedicated to publishing empirical research concerning the psychological experience and effects of human interaction with popular media in all of its forms including social media, games, apps, and fictional narratives in all of their forms (e.g., film, television, books).. Psychology of Popular Media reports cutting-edge ...

  10. Media Effects: Theory and Research

    This review analyzes trends and commonalities among prominent theories of media effects. On the basis of exemplary meta-analyses of media effects and bibliometric studies of well-cited theories, we identify and discuss five features of media effects theories as well as their empirical support. Each of these features specifies the conditions under which media may produce effects on certain ...

  11. (PDF) Understanding Media Psychology

    An individuals' interpretation of information and events will directly affect whether they act (Albarracín and Wyer, 2000;Ma and Cao, 2019). Related media psychology research has found that ...

  12. Effects of Social Media Use on Psychological Well-Being: A Mediated

    This paper's main objective is to shed light on the effect of social media use on psychological well-being. Building on contributions from various fields in the literature, it provides a more comprehensive study of the phenomenon by considering a set of mediators, including social capital types (i.e., bonding social capital and bridging social ...

  13. Research in Media Psychology

    Research in Media Psychology. The Stanford Department of Communication has long been a pioneer in studying the relationships between digital media, psychology and behavior. In the early nineties, Clifford Nass and his graduate students were among the first in the world to empirically examine constructs such as agency and anthropomorphism.

  14. What is Media Psychology? A Qualitative Analysis

    A Qualitative Analysis. Media psychology is a new academic and applied discipline emerging in response to the proliferation of communication technologies in the last fifty years. While there is much interest in the field, there is little agreement in defining media psychology. In response to this situation, a research team formed in July 2007 ...

  15. Media Psychology Research Center

    The MPRC researches, field-tests and advises on media strategy, application impact, media literacy curricula and training programs. We are working to make our Research Center a hands-on, long-term partner with other world-class organizations. We are happy to share our knowledge and collaborate on potential media research projects.

  16. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic

    Of the 16 selected research papers, there were a research focus on adults, gender, and preadolescents [10-19]. In the design, there were qualitative and quantitative studies [ 15 , 16 ]. There were three systematic reviews and one thematic analysis that explored the better or worse of using social media among adolescents [ 20 - 23 ].

  17. Latest articles from Media Psychology

    Digital Divides, Generational Gaps, and Cultural Overlaps: A Portrait of Media Use and Perspectives of Media in Thailand. Jessica McKenzie, Rachel Castellón, Emma Willis-Grossmann, Cristina Landeros, Joseph Rooney & Cassandra Stewart. Published online: 27 Jun 2023.

  18. Understanding Media Psychology

    Understanding Media Psychology is the perfect introductory textbook to the growing field of media psychology and its importance in society, summarizing key concepts and theories to provide an overview of topics in the field.. Media is present in almost every area of life today, and is an area of study that will only increase in importance as the world becomes ever more interconnected.

  19. Media Psychology Research Center

    The MPRC researches, field-tests and advises on media strategy, application impact, media literacy curricula and training programs. We are working to make our Research Center a hands-on, long-term partner with other world-class organizations. We are happy to share our knowledge and collaborate on potential media research projects.

  20. Free APA Journal Articles

    Recently published articles from subdisciplines of psychology covered by more than 90 APA Journals™ publications. For additional free resources (such as article summaries, podcasts, and more), please visit the Highlights in Psychological Research page. Browse and read free articles from APA Journals across the field of psychology, selected by ...

  21. Using psychological science to fight misinformation: A guide for

    Misinformation can hold sway for years, even after the facts are set straight. It spreads faster than true information because of its social and emotional qualities. Research shows that misinformation can be "sticky" if it's frequently liked, commented, or shared—or if it evokes feelings of fear. Our cognitive biases also play a role.