Some socially poor but also some socially rich adolescents feel closer to their friends after using social media

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Who benefits most from using social media is an important societal question that is centered around two opposing hypotheses: the rich-get-richer versus the poor-get-richer hypothesis. This study investigated the assumption that both hypotheses may be true, but only for some socially rich and some socially poor adolescents and across different time intervals. We employed a state-of-the-art measurement burst design, consisting of a three-week experience sampling study and seven biweekly follow-up surveys. Person-specific analyses of more than 70,000 observations from 383 adolescents revealed that 12% of the socially rich adolescents (high in friendship support or low in loneliness) felt closer to their friends after using social media, as opposed to about 25% of the socially poor adolescents (low in friendship support or high in loneliness). However, only 1 to 6% of all adolescents (socially rich and poor) felt closer both in the short- and longer-term. These results indicate that the rich-get-richer and the poor-get-richer hypotheses can hold both, but for different adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21176
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This preregistered study was funded by an NWO Spinoza Prize and a Gravitation grant (NWO Grant 024.001.003; Consortium on Individual Development) awarded to Patti M. Valkenburg by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Additional funding was received from a VIDI grant (NWO VIDI Grant 452.17.011) awarded to Loes Keijsers. We would like to thank Tim Verbeij and Teun Siebers for their contribution to the data collection of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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