Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth

Kira E. Riehm, Kenneth A. Feder, Kayla N. Tormohlen, Rosa M Crum, Andrea Young, Kerry M. Green, Lauren R. Pacek, Lareina N. La Flair, Ramin Mojtabai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Importance: Social media use may be a risk factor for mental health problems in adolescents. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated this association, and none have quantified the proportion of mental health problems among adolescents attributable to social media use. Objective: To assess whether time spent using social media per day is prospectively associated with internalizing and externalizing problems among adolescents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal cohort study of 6595 participants from waves 1 (September 12, 2013, to December 14, 2014), 2 (October 23, 2014, to October 30, 2015), and 3 (October 18, 2015, to October 23, 2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, a nationally representative cohort study of US adolescents, assessed US adolescents via household interviews using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing. Data analysis was performed from January 14, 2019, to May 22, 2019. Exposures: Self-reported time spent on social media during a typical day (none, ≤30 minutes, >30 minutes to ≤3 hours, >3 hours to ≤6 hours, and >6 hours) during wave 2. Main Outcomes and Measure: Self-reported past-year internalizing problems alone, externalizing problems alone, and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems during wave 3 using the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs-Short Screener. Results: A total of 6595 adolescents (aged 12-15 years during wave 1; 3400 [51.3%] male) were studied. In unadjusted analyses, spending more than 30 minutes of time on social media, compared with no use, was associated with increased risk of internalizing problems alone (≤30 minutes: relative risk ratio [RRR], 1.30; 95% CI, 0.94-1.78; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.36-2.64; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.74-3.49; >6 hours: RRR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.88-4.26) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (≤30 minutes: RRR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.06-1.82; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.83-3.00; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 3.15; 95% CI, 2.43-4.09; >6 hours: RRR, 4.29; 95% CI, 3.22-5.73); associations with externalizing problems were inconsistent. In adjusted analyses, use of social media for more than 3 hours per day compared with no use remained significantly associated with internalizing problems alone (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.11-2.31; >6 hours: RRR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.15-2.77) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.51-2.66; >6 hours: RRR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.73-3.43) but not externalizing problems alone. Conclusions and Relevance: Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. Future research should determine whether setting limits on daily social media use, increasing media literacy, and redesigning social media platforms are effective means of reducing the burden of mental health problems in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJAMA psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Social Media
Odds Ratio
Mental Health
Longitudinal Studies
Cohort Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth. / Riehm, Kira E.; Feder, Kenneth A.; Tormohlen, Kayla N.; Crum, Rosa M; Young, Andrea; Green, Kerry M.; Pacek, Lauren R.; La Flair, Lareina N.; Mojtabai, Ramin.

In: JAMA psychiatry, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Riehm, Kira E. ; Feder, Kenneth A. ; Tormohlen, Kayla N. ; Crum, Rosa M ; Young, Andrea ; Green, Kerry M. ; Pacek, Lauren R. ; La Flair, Lareina N. ; Mojtabai, Ramin. / Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth. In: JAMA psychiatry. 2019.
@article{8f3fc139aec541a3a19c26b605e96a02,
title = "Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth",
abstract = "Importance: Social media use may be a risk factor for mental health problems in adolescents. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated this association, and none have quantified the proportion of mental health problems among adolescents attributable to social media use. Objective: To assess whether time spent using social media per day is prospectively associated with internalizing and externalizing problems among adolescents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal cohort study of 6595 participants from waves 1 (September 12, 2013, to December 14, 2014), 2 (October 23, 2014, to October 30, 2015), and 3 (October 18, 2015, to October 23, 2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, a nationally representative cohort study of US adolescents, assessed US adolescents via household interviews using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing. Data analysis was performed from January 14, 2019, to May 22, 2019. Exposures: Self-reported time spent on social media during a typical day (none, ≤30 minutes, >30 minutes to ≤3 hours, >3 hours to ≤6 hours, and >6 hours) during wave 2. Main Outcomes and Measure: Self-reported past-year internalizing problems alone, externalizing problems alone, and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems during wave 3 using the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs-Short Screener. Results: A total of 6595 adolescents (aged 12-15 years during wave 1; 3400 [51.3{\%}] male) were studied. In unadjusted analyses, spending more than 30 minutes of time on social media, compared with no use, was associated with increased risk of internalizing problems alone (≤30 minutes: relative risk ratio [RRR], 1.30; 95{\%} CI, 0.94-1.78; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 1.89; 95{\%} CI, 1.36-2.64; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.47; 95{\%} CI, 1.74-3.49; >6 hours: RRR, 2.83; 95{\%} CI, 1.88-4.26) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (≤30 minutes: RRR, 1.39; 95{\%} CI, 1.06-1.82; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 2.34; 95{\%} CI, 1.83-3.00; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 3.15; 95{\%} CI, 2.43-4.09; >6 hours: RRR, 4.29; 95{\%} CI, 3.22-5.73); associations with externalizing problems were inconsistent. In adjusted analyses, use of social media for more than 3 hours per day compared with no use remained significantly associated with internalizing problems alone (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 1.60; 95{\%} CI, 1.11-2.31; >6 hours: RRR, 1.78; 95{\%} CI, 1.15-2.77) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.01; 95{\%} CI, 1.51-2.66; >6 hours: RRR, 2.44; 95{\%} CI, 1.73-3.43) but not externalizing problems alone. Conclusions and Relevance: Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. Future research should determine whether setting limits on daily social media use, increasing media literacy, and redesigning social media platforms are effective means of reducing the burden of mental health problems in this population.",
author = "Riehm, {Kira E.} and Feder, {Kenneth A.} and Tormohlen, {Kayla N.} and Crum, {Rosa M} and Andrea Young and Green, {Kerry M.} and Pacek, {Lauren R.} and {La Flair}, {Lareina N.} and Ramin Mojtabai",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2325",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "JAMA Psychiatry",
issn = "2168-622X",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Associations between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among US Youth

AU - Riehm, Kira E.

AU - Feder, Kenneth A.

AU - Tormohlen, Kayla N.

AU - Crum, Rosa M

AU - Young, Andrea

AU - Green, Kerry M.

AU - Pacek, Lauren R.

AU - La Flair, Lareina N.

AU - Mojtabai, Ramin

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - Importance: Social media use may be a risk factor for mental health problems in adolescents. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated this association, and none have quantified the proportion of mental health problems among adolescents attributable to social media use. Objective: To assess whether time spent using social media per day is prospectively associated with internalizing and externalizing problems among adolescents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal cohort study of 6595 participants from waves 1 (September 12, 2013, to December 14, 2014), 2 (October 23, 2014, to October 30, 2015), and 3 (October 18, 2015, to October 23, 2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, a nationally representative cohort study of US adolescents, assessed US adolescents via household interviews using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing. Data analysis was performed from January 14, 2019, to May 22, 2019. Exposures: Self-reported time spent on social media during a typical day (none, ≤30 minutes, >30 minutes to ≤3 hours, >3 hours to ≤6 hours, and >6 hours) during wave 2. Main Outcomes and Measure: Self-reported past-year internalizing problems alone, externalizing problems alone, and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems during wave 3 using the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs-Short Screener. Results: A total of 6595 adolescents (aged 12-15 years during wave 1; 3400 [51.3%] male) were studied. In unadjusted analyses, spending more than 30 minutes of time on social media, compared with no use, was associated with increased risk of internalizing problems alone (≤30 minutes: relative risk ratio [RRR], 1.30; 95% CI, 0.94-1.78; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.36-2.64; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.74-3.49; >6 hours: RRR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.88-4.26) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (≤30 minutes: RRR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.06-1.82; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.83-3.00; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 3.15; 95% CI, 2.43-4.09; >6 hours: RRR, 4.29; 95% CI, 3.22-5.73); associations with externalizing problems were inconsistent. In adjusted analyses, use of social media for more than 3 hours per day compared with no use remained significantly associated with internalizing problems alone (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.11-2.31; >6 hours: RRR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.15-2.77) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.51-2.66; >6 hours: RRR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.73-3.43) but not externalizing problems alone. Conclusions and Relevance: Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. Future research should determine whether setting limits on daily social media use, increasing media literacy, and redesigning social media platforms are effective means of reducing the burden of mental health problems in this population.

AB - Importance: Social media use may be a risk factor for mental health problems in adolescents. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated this association, and none have quantified the proportion of mental health problems among adolescents attributable to social media use. Objective: To assess whether time spent using social media per day is prospectively associated with internalizing and externalizing problems among adolescents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal cohort study of 6595 participants from waves 1 (September 12, 2013, to December 14, 2014), 2 (October 23, 2014, to October 30, 2015), and 3 (October 18, 2015, to October 23, 2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, a nationally representative cohort study of US adolescents, assessed US adolescents via household interviews using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing. Data analysis was performed from January 14, 2019, to May 22, 2019. Exposures: Self-reported time spent on social media during a typical day (none, ≤30 minutes, >30 minutes to ≤3 hours, >3 hours to ≤6 hours, and >6 hours) during wave 2. Main Outcomes and Measure: Self-reported past-year internalizing problems alone, externalizing problems alone, and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems during wave 3 using the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs-Short Screener. Results: A total of 6595 adolescents (aged 12-15 years during wave 1; 3400 [51.3%] male) were studied. In unadjusted analyses, spending more than 30 minutes of time on social media, compared with no use, was associated with increased risk of internalizing problems alone (≤30 minutes: relative risk ratio [RRR], 1.30; 95% CI, 0.94-1.78; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.36-2.64; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.74-3.49; >6 hours: RRR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.88-4.26) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (≤30 minutes: RRR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.06-1.82; >30 minutes to ≤3 hours: RRR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.83-3.00; >3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 3.15; 95% CI, 2.43-4.09; >6 hours: RRR, 4.29; 95% CI, 3.22-5.73); associations with externalizing problems were inconsistent. In adjusted analyses, use of social media for more than 3 hours per day compared with no use remained significantly associated with internalizing problems alone (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.11-2.31; >6 hours: RRR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.15-2.77) and comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems (>3 to ≤6 hours: RRR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.51-2.66; >6 hours: RRR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.73-3.43) but not externalizing problems alone. Conclusions and Relevance: Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day using social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems. Future research should determine whether setting limits on daily social media use, increasing media literacy, and redesigning social media platforms are effective means of reducing the burden of mental health problems in this population.

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