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Kinesiology & Recreation


Rebecca Achen

Mentor Department

Kinesiology & Recreation


The purpose of this study was to identify the impact of social media on the mental health of student-athletes. Over 140 institutions across the 3 NCAA Divisions were invited to participate. In total, 9 schools sent the survey out to their student-athletes (5 Division I, 2 Division II and 2 Division III). The survey measured social media use including frequency, sites used, and a general social media use scale and various aspects of mental health including anxiety/depression, perceived stress, resilience, vitality, and self-esteem. It was completed by 94 student-athletes in its entirety. Additionally, the survey included a qualitative question that asked the respondents what impact they thought social media had on them. The results of this qualitative portion were split into 6 themes. The positive themes identified were increased communication, stress relief, and motivation. The negative themes identified included vulnerability, procrastination, and loss of sleep. Quantitative data from a multiple regression analysis indicated there were higher levels of depression/anxiety in the Division II and graduate student populations. Additionally, a negative relationship was identified between female studentathletes, self-esteem and Facebook use. Negative relationships were identified between male student-athletes Instagram use and depression/anxiety, as well as athletic identity and YouTube. The findings of this exploratory research identify that social media does have some impacts student-athlete mental health. Because of this finding, athletic departments should make an effort to educate themselves and student-athletes on the potential negative outcomes of using social media for stress relief. Future research should explore differences between social media use, and problematic social media use. At what point are student-athletes beginning to put themselves atrisk. Additional research should be completed on looking at student-athlete’s motivations for social media use and how these impact their well-being and success.

The Impact Of Social Media On The Mental Health Of Student-Athletes