Bored and online: Reasons for using social media, problematic social networking site use, and behavioral outcomes across the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood

J Adolesc. 2020 Feb;79:173-183. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2020.01.010. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Abstract

Introduction: The current study examined motivations for social networking site use across three years during the transition from late adolescence to emerging adulthood. While research has been conducted examining reasons for social networking site usage and behavior, the clear majority have focused on samples of undergraduate college students and are cross-sectional.

Methods: Changes in motivations for using social networking sites were examined in relation to problematic social networking site use and several behavioral and mental health outcomes in a sample of adolescents over three years.

Results: Using social networking sites to connect with others was relatively stable over a three-year period. However, using social networking sites to seek information increased from late adolescence to emerging adulthood and was not related to any negative outcomes across three years. Using social networking sites to alleviate boredom also increased over time. Initial levels of social media use to alleviate boredom were associated with problematic social networking site use, financial stress, anxiety, and empathy at year three. Increases in using social networking sites to socially connect over time was related to problematic social networking site use, anxiety, delinquency, and empathy at year three. Using social networking sites for any reason was not related to depressive symptoms over three years.

Conclusions: The current study supports the growing body of literature suggesting that using social networking sites to alleviate boredom and socially connect, may place individuals at increased risk for developing pathological tendencies and patterns of behavior towards social networking sites.

Keywords: Internet addiction; Internet gaming disorder; Motivations for social media use; Pathological social networking; Problematic social networking site use; Social networking site addiction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Boredom*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Online Social Networking*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult