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FRIMEDBIO-Fri med.,helse,biol

Digital Lives: Impact of Social Media Use on Psychological and Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood

Alternative title: Digitale liv: Betydningen av sosial mediebruk for psykologisk og sosial utvikling fra barndom til voksen alder.

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Like earlier generations, today’s children and adolescents live their lives in homes, at schools and in neighbourhoods. However, unlike before, the present generation of youth is the first to also live their lives in cyberspace. Thus, cyberspace constitutes a developmental context shaping children’s behavior and relationships. Social media is indeed part of daily life in developed countries (even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic). Nearly all teens use social media. However, social media use varies considerably according to type, content, time use, importance, and function. It is thus critical to consider the questions: To what extent do individual differences in social media use impact psychological and social development from childhood to early adulthood? What characterizes social medie use that promotes and impedes psychological and social development, respectively? The core objective of the proposed research is to provide such knowledge focusing on individual’s self-concept; social skills and relationships; mental health and quality of life; academic achievements and health behavior. We will use data from The Trondheim Early Secure Study (TESS), a longitudinal study of nearly a thousand children and their parents. Data has been gathered biennially since the participants were four years old. Social media use has been assessed since the age of 10 by means of interviews and questionnaires. At age 16, an objective measure of overall time spent on social media and the most used apps was also included. The core outcomes --psychological and social functioning, as well as health behavior-- have been assessed by means of interviews, questionnaires, test and objective measures. We will retest the TESS sample at ages 18 and 20, thus the project will capture the development from childhood to adulthood. Further, to reveal potential cross-cultural differences in the impact of social media use, we will also use data from one Dutch and two US studies.

Nearly all youth use social media platforms, but they differ in terms of how much and how they use it, which we hypothesize determine its consequences, along with the possibility that individuals are differentially susceptible to both negative and positive impacts of social media use. Previous studies have mainly focused on negative and short-term outcomes; not been theoretically informed by developmental models; been poorly positioned to disentangle cause and effect as well as discounting confounding factors; and have not acknowledged potential cultural differences. To address these gaps, we will test a novel developmental and ecological model of the impacts of social media use on social, emotional, and behavioral development from childhood to adulthood. To accomplish this, retest an extensively examined community sample (TESS) at ages 18 and 20 years and include three non-Norwegian datasets to discern cross-cultural differences. Method: A stratified sample (n=1,150; 82% consent) of the 2003 and 2004 birth cohorts in Trondheim tested (4-5 hours) biennially from age 4 to 20 and thee non-Norwegian prospective datasets (n=2,751). Outcomes: Self-concept (interviews and questionnaires); Social relations (self,- parent- and teacher reported); Social skills (parent- and teacher reported); Mental health (clinical interviews and questionnaires) and quality of life (self-report); Physical activity (objectively measured by accelerometry); Sleep (accelerometry and clinical interviews); Sexuality (experiences, risky behavior; self-reported); Educational (academic abilities and homework; teacher- and self-reported, register information). Predictors: Social media use (frequency, type and a range of behaviors; questionnaires and interviews with participants and parents, mobile phone data). Moderators: Individual and parental characteristics (e.g., gender, social competence, parental support); social media experiences (e.g. cyberbullying; interviews and questionnaires).

Funding scheme:

FRIMEDBIO-Fri med.,helse,biol