Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of Psychology: School Psychology
Social media use is a major part of everyday American life and has continued to increase in the last decade particularly due to increased access of social media capable devices. The most frequent users of social media appear to be adolescent youth and college aged adults. Being as pervasive as it is, the effects of social media use as worth exploring. Research has established associations between social media use and negative mental and physical health outcomes. A key area of study has explored loneliness and found social media use predicts increased feelings of loneliness. Other research contests these findings suggesting other factors beyond just usage, and some argue that social media use can even reduce loneliness. These conflicting findings suggest the potential role of motivation and intention for engaging in social media use. Such drivers of social media use may be found within self-determination theory, and fear of missing out. The study evaluated a moderated mediation model wherein the indirect effect of social media use on distress were mediated by loneliness, the latter of which was moderated by need satisfaction and FOMO. The results indicate that social media does not exhibit a moderated mediation effect. There was no evidence that need satisfaction and FOMO moderated the effect of social media usage on loneliness, which in turn was hypothesized to be linked to heightened psychological distress. Social media use was also not associated with higher levels of distress, nor did it predict loneliness when moderated by FOMO or needs satisfaction. Finally, loneliness was positively associated with distress.
Hawkinson, Garett R., "The Effects of Social Media on Psychological Distress: Contributions of Loneliness, Fear of Missing out, and Need Satisfaction" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 1602.