Depressed adolescents' positive and negative use of social media

Ana Radovic, Theresa Gmelin, Bradley D. Stein, Elizabeth Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This qualitative study examined descriptions of social media use among 23 adolescents (18 female, 5 male) who were diagnosed with depression to explore how social media use may influence and be influenced by psychological distress. Adolescents described both positive and negative use of social media. Positive use included searching for positive content (i.e. for entertainment, humor, content creation) or for social connection. Negative use included sharing risky behaviors, cyberbullying, and for making self-denigrating comparisons with others. Adolescents described three types of use in further detail including “oversharing” (sharing updates at a high frequency or too much personal information), “stressed posting” (sharing negative updates with a social network), and encountering “triggering posts.” In the context of treatment, these adolescents shifted their social media use patterns from what they perceived as negative to more positive use. Implications for clinicians counseling depressed adolescents on social media use are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Depression
  • Social media
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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