Psychological Well-Being and Social Media Use: A Meta-Analysis of Associations between Social Media Use and Depression, Anxiety, Loneliness, Eudaimonic, Hedonic and Social Well-Being

62 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2022

See all articles by Jeff Hancock

Jeff Hancock

Stanford University

Sunny Xun Liu

Department of Communication

Mufan Luo

Stanford University

Hannah Mieczkowski

Stanford

Date Written: March 9, 2022

Abstract

The issue of how social media use relates to psychological well-being has been the subject of intense scrutiny across academic disciplines and in the popular media, and the debate has important implications for public policy. We collected all empirical publications that examined the association between the amount of social media use and at least one of six forms of psychological well-being over the past 12 years, and conducted a meta-analysis to calculate the effect size between social media use and well-being. The results of a random-effects model across 226 studies (N = 275,728) indicated that social media use is not associated with a combined measure of well-being (r = 0.01, n.s., 95% CI [-.02, .04]). There were, however, small but significant effects for specific dimensions of well-being, including small positive associations with anxiety (r = .13, p < .01, 95% CI [.04, .22]) and depression (r = .12, p < .01, 95% CI [.07, .17]), as well as social well-being (r = .20, p < .01, 95% CI [.14, .27]). These effects varied by population cohort, geographic region, study methodology, and types of social media use, among other moderators. We identified 15 different conceptual mechanisms across five categories that authors described as underlying links between social media use and well-being, although these mechanisms were not frequently measured or tested. Overall, our findings are consistent with recent large-scale studies suggesting that there are small but significant associations between social media use and an individual’s well-being, with a trade-off between increased depression and anxiety, along with improved social well-being.

Keywords: social media, psychology well-being, meta-analysis

Suggested Citation

Hancock, Jeff and Liu, Sunny Xun and Luo, Mufan and Mieczkowski, Hannah, Psychological Well-Being and Social Media Use: A Meta-Analysis of Associations between Social Media Use and Depression, Anxiety, Loneliness, Eudaimonic, Hedonic and Social Well-Being (March 9, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4053961 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4053961

Jeff Hancock

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Sunny Xun Liu (Contact Author)

Department of Communication ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Mufan Luo

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Hannah Mieczkowski

Stanford ( email )

United States

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