Adolescents’ Social Media Experiences and Their Self-Esteem: A Person-Specific Susceptibility Perspective

Patti M. Valkenburg*, J. Loes Pouwels, Ine Beyens, Irene I. van Driel, Loes Keijsers

*Corresponding author for this work

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The aim of this preregistered study was to compare and explain the effects of (a) time spent on social media (SM) and (b) the valence (positivity or negativity) of SM experiences on adolescents’ self-esteem. We conducted a 3-week experience sampling (ESM) study among 300 adolescents (13–16 years; 126 assessments per adolescent; 21,970 assessments in total). Using an N = 1 method of analysis (Dynamic Structural Equation Modeling [DSEM]), we found that the within-person effects of time spent with SM on selfesteem ranged from strongly negative (β = –.31) to moderately positive (β = +.27) across adolescents. Across all ESM observations of the valence of adolescents’ SM experiences, 55% of these experiences were positive, 18% negative, and 27% neutral. Finally, 78% of adolescents experienced a positive within-person effect of the valence of SM experiences on self-esteem (β ≥ +.05), 19% no to a very small effect (–.05 < β < +.05), and 3% a negative effect (β ≤ –.05). These sizeable differences in person-specific effects could be explained by adolescents’ self-esteem level, self-esteem instability, and their tendency to base their self-esteem on peer approval.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology, Mind, and Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021

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