Nav: Home

Frequent social media use influences depressive symptoms over time among LGBTQ youth

July 23, 2020

PULLMAN, Wash. - Frequent social media use can impact depressive symptoms over time for LGBTQ youth, according to research from a Washington State University communication professor.

Traci Gillig, an assistant professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, found that when LGBTQ adolescents attended a social media-free summer camp, they experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms, as outlined in her 2020 research "Longitudinal analysis of depressive symptoms among LGBTQ youth at a social media-free camp".

According to Gillig, social media use may foster a positive sense of self and a perception of being valued in a society or community, or it may do the opposite, which can affect adolescents' psychological well-being. Youth with more negative emotional or psychological symptoms are at higher risk than their peers of developing problematic online engagement patterns in attempts to ease psychological distress, which can lead to problematic usage patterns for some.

Previous research reveals that nearly half of youth (42%) report that social media has taken away from in-person, face-to-face time with friends in today's digital age. Many also report feelings of social exclusion, which is popularly referred to today as the term FOMO (i.e., "fear of missing out").

In Gillig's recently published study, LGBTQ youth ages 12-18 were surveyed before and after attending a social media-free summer leadership camp for LGBTQ youth. Survey questions examined the relationship between youth's social media use prior to camp and changes in their depressive symptoms during the program.

When examining the role of social media use in changes in depressive symptoms over time, significant findings emerged. Before attending the camp, the average number of hours participants spent using social media each day was about four hours and depressive symptoms among participants was moderate. By the end of the social media-free camp, depressive symptoms lowered by about half.

Youth with the highest levels of pre-camp social media use tended to experience a more "across the board" reduction in depressive symptoms. Gillig believes this can be attributed to the social, affirming camp setting that may have filled a critical need of social interaction for the high-volume social media users.

These findings highlight the positive influence of a "social media break" in a supportive environment on mental health, especially for LGBTQ youth. They also demonstrate the value of face-to-face interactions and how many youth may be unaware of the psychological benefits they could experience by trading social media time for face-to-face interactions in supportive contexts.

Face-to-face interactions can be even more beneficial for marginalized groups, including LGBTQ adolescents, who may not have access to supportive contacts within their local community. Affirming programming that brings together LGBTQ youth for in-person relationship development, such as camps for LGBTQ individuals, shows promise to improve youth mental health trajectories.

Gillig hopes that other researchers continue to test for relationships between social media use and psychological distress, especially its impact on LGBTQ youth mental health over time. More research is needed to help practitioners make informed recommendations to distressed LGBTQ youth and their parents as to whether the youth may benefit from simply unplugging from social media or from unplugging in the context of LGBTQ-affirming programming.
-end-
By Kerry Colby, Marketing Coordinator at Murrow College

Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Related Mental Health Articles:

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.
COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.
COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.
Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.
Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.
Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.
Heat takes its toll on mental health
Hot days increase the probability that an average adult in the US will report bad mental health, according to a study published March 25, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Mengyao Li of the University of Georgia, and colleagues.
Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
More Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.