Nancy J. Karlin, Ph.D.

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Based on the amount of published research projects, interest continues to grow regarding the impact social media has on mental health. Yet with this increasing interest, research on the relationship between social media and mental health has not been fully explored across multiple age populations. Social media’s impact on mental health has been primarily examined among young adults, typically between the ages of 18-23; however, it has not been widely studied among age groups beyond the emerging adult. To identify how social media impacts the mental health of individuals on a broader age range, the current study considered two age cohorts, the Millennial Generation (born between 1981-1995) and Generation Z (born between 1996-2012), and compared differences and similarities between these age groups. Specific social media platform use and mental health conditions were measured with an overall goal of a more comprehensive view of social media type (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and use on self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and self-esteem. The preliminary findings indicate that individuals who are categorized as part of Generation Z report a more negative impact on mental health as influenced by the use of any of the three prominent forms of social media considered.

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