The Relationship Between Online Social Networking and Depression: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Studies

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Nov;19(11):638-648. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0206. Epub 2016 Oct 12.


Online social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are used by billions of people every day to communicate and interact with others. There has been increasing interest in the potential impact of online social networking on wellbeing, with a broadening body of new research into factors associated with both positive and negative mental health outcomes such as depression. This systematic review of empirical studies (n = 30) adds to existing research in this field by examining current quantitative studies focused on the relationship between online social networking and symptoms of depression. The academic databases PsycINFO, Web of Science, CINAHL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE were searched systematically using terms related to online social networking and depression. Reporting quality was critically appraised and the findings discussed with reference to their wider implications. The findings suggest that the relationship between online social networking and symptoms of depression may be complex and associated with multiple psychological, social, behavioral, and individual factors. Furthermore, the impact of online social networking on wellbeing may be both positive and negative, highlighting the need for future research to determine the impact of candidate mediators and moderators underlying these heterogeneous outcomes across evolving networks.

Keywords: Facebook; depression; online social networking; rumination; social comparison.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Social Media*
  • Social Networking*