Shafi, Nakonezny, Romanowicz, Nandakumar, Suarez, Croarkin (2019) The Differential Impact of Social Media Use on Middle and High School Students: A Retrospective Study Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology ()


Background: Social media use is now a central aspect of adolescent life and development. Little is known about the clinical implications of social media use in children and adolescents presenting in acute crisis for psychiatric admission. This study sought to compare the potential effects of social media use among middle and high school students on outcomes of psychiatric morbidity. It was hypothesized that among social media users, high school students would have greater psychiatric morbidity compared with middle school students. Methods: The research team extracted clinical and demographic data from adolescents (aged 12-17 years) presenting for acute psychiatric admission who also had documented social media use (N = 56). Educational status, middle school (n = 21) versus high school (n = 35), was examined as an independent variable. Psychotropic medication use, self-injurious behavior, suicide risk, and suicidal ideation were examined as dependent variables in logistic regression models. Results: High school students using social media had significantly greater predicted odds of psychotropic medication use and self-injurious behavior compared with students in middle school who used social media. High school students using social media had greater, although not statistically significant, predicted odds of suicide risk and suicidal ideation compared with middle school students using social media. Conclusions: Social media use is likely an important factor to consider in psychiatric evaluations. The present findings suggest that social media use in high school students is associated with greater psychiatric morbidity compared with middle school students. Further research could illuminate the developmental lines of social media use and age-specific risks.