Emotional Responses to Social Media Experiences Among Adolescents: Longitudinal Associations with Depressive Symptoms.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


The degree to which adolescent social media use is associated with depressive symptoms has been the source of considerable debate. Prior studies have been limited by a reliance on cross-sectional data and measures of overall "screen time." This study examines prospective associations between adolescents' emotional responses to social media experiences and depressive symptoms, and examines gender differences in these processes.


A school-based sample of 687 adolescents (48.6% girls; Mage  = 14.3; 38.1% White, 29.4% Hispanic, 23.0% Black) completed measures of positive and negative emotional responses to social media experiences and depressive symptoms at two time points, one year apart.


Higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with more frequent negative emotional responses to social media experiences one year later, whereas greater positive emotional responses to social media were associated with later depressive symptoms. Girls reported overall greater emotional responses to social media experiences, but gender did not moderate associations between these emotional responses and depressive symptoms.


Findings highlight the importance of examining adolescents' positive and negative emotional experiences in the context of social media use, and the ways in which these experiences intersect with depressive symptoms, so as to identify youth who may be most vulnerable to negative effects of social media use.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Nesi, J; Rothenberg, WA; Bettis, AH; Massing-Schaffer, M; Fox, KA; Telzer, EH; Lindquist, KA; Prinstein, MJ

Published Date

  • August 23, 2021

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 16

PubMed ID

  • 34424131

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8863992

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-4424

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1537-4416

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15374416.2021.1955370


  • eng