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Leandra Parris

Mentor Department



Daniel Lannin

Co-Mentor Department



A.   Purpose Understanding the effects of social media is an important area of study because 95% of adolescents report having a smartphone and nearly half admit they are "online almost constantly" (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). Students engaging with social media may be inundated with self-presentation concerns (Seidman, 2013), a process that may be subsumed by a person's tendency to engage in rumination (Feinstein et al., 2013). Although rumination-more generally defined-has been examined, there is a need to examine rumination that is social-media specific. Further, while social media usage has been examined in relation to cyberbullying (Best, Manktelow, & Talor, 2014), how social media is linked to face-to-face bullying is less clear. Therefore, the current study examines the mediating effect of social media rumination on the relationship between bullying and mental health distress. B.   Procedure During fall of 2018, in Champaign county, 171 youth aged 15-19, participating in the Champaign Area Relationship Education for Youth (CARE4U) program, completed pretest survey data. Participants completed questionnaires assessing social media rumination, mental distress, and bullying. Surveys were administered on tablets once parent permission and child assent were obtained. C.   Results To determine the structure of the social media rumination scale, a series of analyses were conducted. First, a parallel analysis was conducted to determine factor retention (Hayton, Allen, & Scarpello, 2004) followed by a principle component analysis. Of the 19 original items (e.g., "I worry about how people will react to my social media posts."), 7 were dropped resulting in a 12-item scale (α = .88). Next, we computed the indirect effect of bullying on mental distress through social media rumination in SPSS 25 utilizing Hayes (2013) PROCESS model. Results supported the mediation hypothesis, indicating that the indirect effect from bullying to mental distress, through social media rumination, was significant (β = 0.07, 95% CI = [0.02, 0.14]), R2 = .16. D.   Conclusions Our study demonstrates that youth who experience bullying increase their rumination of social media-related experiences, and subsequently experience greater distress. That is, social media rumination is one process through which bullying influences youth's mental health functioning. It is possible that traditional bullying experiences cause youth to be more anxious or worried about their experiences online. Future research is warranted to expand this study and continue to validate this new social media rumination scale.

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