Social media use and the not-so-imaginary audience: Behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the influence on self-concept

S Peters, Renske van der Cruijsen, L van der Aar, Jochem Spaans, Andrik Becht, Eveline Crone

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Abstract

We investigated behavioral and neural mechanisms in the relation between social media use (SMU) and self-concept, as well as longitudinal developmental outcomes. Adolescents and young adults (N = 150, 11–21 years old at T1) rated themselves on 60 traits in the academic, physical and prosocial domain, and also indicated how they thought peers would judge them (reflected-peer-judgements). Longitudinal questionnaires (1- and 2-year follow-up) were collected to assess positive (prosocial behavior, self-concept clarity) and negative (clinical symptoms) long-term outcomes. Results indicated that heavier self-reported SMU was linked with lower difference scores between self-judgements and reflected-peer-judgements. Lower SMU was related to more positive ratings from self-judgements vs. reflected-peer-judgements. SMU was also associated with less positive self-concept, particularly in the academic domain (boys and girls) and physical domain (girls). Neurally, increased SMU was linked to heightened mPFC-activity during self-judgements compared to reflected-peer-judgements, and increased activity during physical compared to academic and prosocial self-judgements. Longitudinal analyses indicated no evidence for long-term effects of social media use, self/reflected-peer-difference scores and mPFC-activity on clinical symptoms, prosocial behavior or self-concept clarity. This study highlights the complex relationship between social media use and wellbeing and future research is needed to confirm the lack of long-term effects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-VICI 453-14-001 E.A.C.). We thank all participants and their parents for their participation. We would also like to thank Marjolein Wille, Suzanne van de Groep, Sibel Altikula?, Martine Verheij, Fr?derique Arntz, and Rebecca Mourits for their help with data collection.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research ( NWO-VICI 453-14-001 E.A.C. ). We thank all participants and their parents for their participation. We would also like to thank Marjolein Wille, Suzanne van de Groep, Sibel Altikulaç, Martine Verheij, Fréderique Arntz, and Rebecca Mourits for their help with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

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