Toward improved methods in social media research
Number of pages
SourceTheory, Mind, and Behavior, 1, 1, (2020), article 3
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
Theory, Mind, and Behavior
Both academic and public interest in social media and their effects have increased dramatically over the last decade. In particular, a plethora of studies has been conducted aimed at uncovering the relationship between social media use and youth wellbeing, fueled by recent concerns that declines in youth wellbeing may well be caused by a rise in digital technology use. However, reviews of the field strongly suggest that the picture may not be as clear-cut as previously thought, with some studies suggesting positive effects and some suggesting negative effects on youth wellbeing. To shed light on this ambiguity, we have conducted a narrative review of 94 social media use and wellbeing studies. A number of patterns in methodological practices in the field has now become apparent: self-report measures of general statistics around social media use dominate the field, which furthermore often falls short in terms of ecological validity and sufficient use of experimental designs that would enable causal inference. We then go on to discuss why such practices are problematic in some cases, and more importantly, which concrete improvements can be made for future studies that aim to investigate the relationship between social media use and wellbeing.
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