Digital media use frequency, online behaviors, and risk for negative mental health in adolescents in high-achieving schools

Elizabeth Moroney*, Steve S. Lee, Ashley M. Ebbert, Suniya S. Luthar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Replicated evidence shows that adolescents enrolled in high-achieving schools exhibit elevated mental health problems relative to national norms, reflecting risk factors such as achievement and social pressures. The frequency of digital media use is similarly a potential risk factor for poor youth mental health, although mediators of this association have not been identified. 2952 youth from three high-achieving U.S. high schools reported the frequency of their digital media use as well as internalizing and externalizing problems and substance use. Using a multiple mediation framework, the frequency of social comparison, receiving negative feedback, and risky self-presentation online each uniquely mediated the association of digital media use with internalizing and externalizing problems in boys and girls; for substance use, risky self-presentation mediated this association in both boys and girls and negative feedback mediated substance use in girls only. Measurable online behaviors in the form of social comparison, negative feedback, and self-presentation may crucially underlie the association of digital media use frequency with socio-emotional development in adolescents. Implications for intervention focused on impacting online behaviors for improving youth mental health are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-254
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • Digital media
  • externalizing
  • high achieving schools
  • internalizing
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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