The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)
666 Downloads (Pure)


The question whether social media use benefits or undermines adolescents' well-being is an important societal concern. Previous empirical studies have mostly established across-the-board effects among (sub)populations of adolescents. As a result, it is still an open question whether the effects are unique for each individual adolescent. We sampled adolescents' experiences six times per day for one week to quantify differences in their susceptibility to the effects of social media on their momentary affective well-being. Rigorous analyses of 2,155 real-time assessments showed that the association between social media use and affective well-being differs strongly across adolescents: While 44% did not feel better or worse after passive social media use, 46% felt better, and 10% felt worse. Our results imply that person-specific effects can no longer be ignored in research, as well as in prevention and intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10763
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020




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