Undergraduate Honours Theses
Technology use has drastically and progressively increased as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to unfold. Adolescents are now reliant on technology for their education, in addition to communication with friends and family (Pfefferbaum & North, 2020). With the recency of the pandemic, research on the effects of increased internet and social media use for adolescent mental health is decidedly underdeveloped. This study aimed to fill the research gap by examining how the frequency of male and female adolescents’ social media use is associated with depression rates during the pandemic by using a longitudinal design. Participants for this study included 351 adolescents, ages 14-19, residing in Ontario, Canada. Participants completed two surveys: the first (Time 1) was conducted between April 4th to April 16th, 2020, approximately three weeks following secondary school closures in Ontario, Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second survey (Time 2) was conducted between August 21st and September 6th, approximately six months following the first lockdown orders. The findings indicate that, in line with hypotheses, females engaged in more social media use and experienced greater depression than males. Regression analyses further revealed that Time 1 social media use was a significant predictor of Time 2 depression in females only. Strengths, weaknesses, implications, intervention strategies, and future directions for research addressing social media and depression are also discussed.
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