Psychology and Social Sciences


Hannah Kanouse



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Hannah Kanouse, PSY 499: Independent Study
Faculty Mentors: Professor Stephani Foraker, Psychology and Professor Michael MacLean, Psychology

The use of social media and digital devices has become ever-present in our society. This study examined the relationship between time spent on different social media sites and mental well-being, specifically, anxiety and depression, predicting positive correlations. Notably, we examined not only estimated screen time, but actual screen time, which very few studies have assessed. Data from 66 iPhone users from the Buffalo area were collected via Qualtrics online surveys at three time points in one semester; 52 participants completed at least two surveys. Participants reported estimated then actual time spent on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat) using their iPhone’s screen time tracker, then completed questionnaires for depression, anxiety, and demographics. Interestingly, we found no significant correlations with actual screen time. However, positive correlations between estimated screen time and anxiety occurred. In particular, the more time participants thought they spent on social media, particularly Snapchat and Instagram, the more anxious they were about privacy and interactions online. Regression analysis across time points, though, showed that neither actual nor estimated screen time was a significant predictor of the outcome variables. Specifically, hierarchical regressions further revealed that gender was a significant predictor of anxiety (females higher than males), and that estimated screen time did not significantly explain any further variance. This research adds to our understanding of how social media use impacts our mental well-being in young adulthood. How we think we spend our time can have different impacts than how we truly spend our time.

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Relations Between Screen Time on Social Media and Mental Well-being
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