Identity, victimization, and support: Facebook experiences and mental health among LGBTQ youth

Elizabeth A. McConnell*, Antonia Clifford, Aaron K. Korpak, Gregory Lee Phillips ii, Michelle Anne Birkett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The rise of social networking sites (SNSs) has created new contexts within which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and young adults manage their social identities and relationships. On one hand, SNSs provide important social support; on the other, they comprise another realm for victimization and discrimination. Context collapse refers to the ways diverse subgroups (e.g., family, co-workers) are often united in Facebook networks, which presents unique challenges related to outness. In this study, we examine the Facebook contexts of a cohort of LGBTQ youth and young adults with regard to outness, victimization, social support, and psychological distress by first examining descriptive statistics and correlations, and then testing a series of multiple regressions in an analytic sample of 175 (Mage = 24.02 years) LGBTQ youth. Participants reported levels of daily Facebook use comparable to other samples of non-LGBTQ youth; however, they reported greater use of security controls, which may function as a tool for managing outness. Participants reported slightly lower outness across relational subgroups on Facebook, and associations between outness to relational subgroups were slightly stronger on Facebook, illustrating the potential impact of context collapse. Regression results showed that greater victimization, cyberbullying, and the offering of support online were positively associated with psychological distress. Study findings illuminate how LGBTQ youth use and manage their identities on Facebook and highlight the importance of online contexts in shaping wellbeing for LGBTQ youth and young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume76
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Keywords

  • Context collapse
  • Cyberbullying
  • Facebook
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Mental health
  • Outness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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