Do social media benefit or undermine adolescents’ well-being?

Do social media benefit or undermine adolescents’ well-being? Many parents, health practitioners, and scholars are concerned about the question. A new study by CcaM’s Project AWeSome (Adolescents, Well-Being & Social Media) shows that the answer is not a simple yes or no: The effect differs from adolescent to adolescent. The study is now published in Scientific Reports.

While numerous empirical studies have investigated the association between social media use and adolescent well-being, it is still an open question whether the effects are unique for each individual adolescent. CcaM researchers Ine Beyens, Loes Pouwels, Irene van Driel and Patti Valkenburg, together with Loes Keijsers from Tilburg University tried to find an answer to the question.

In an experience sampling study among 14- and 15-year-olds, Beyens and colleagues sampled adolescents’ experiences six times per day for one week. They analyzed 2,155 real-time assessments of adolescents’ social media use and momentary affective well-being to quantify differences in adolescents’ susceptibility to the effects of social media. They found that the majority of adolescents do not experience any changes in well-being related to their social media use. And if they do experience any changes, these are more often positive than negative. For instance, while most adolescents (74%) did not feel better or worse when they had spent more time viewing posts or stories of others on Instagram, some felt better (17%), and a few (9%) felt worse.

  • Free access to the full paper is available via
  • To learn more about this research, please contact Dr. Ine Beyens at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • More information about Project AWeSome is available via

Please cite as: Beyens, I., Pouwels, J. L., van Driel, I. I., Keijsers, L., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2020). The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent. Scientific Reports, 10. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67727-7

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

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