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    Online Social Networking Sites and Mental Health Research

    Toseeb, U and Inkster, B (2015) Online Social Networking Sites and Mental Health Research. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 6. ISSN 1664-0640


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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    Socializing and networking was transformed in the technological era by the introduction of social networking sites (SNSs). These online sites contain an abundance of information about individual preferences, interests, types, and frequency of social interactions, etc. However, scientific studies that have utilized SNS activity data to aid our understanding of mental health disorders are scarce. This is partly due to the practicalities of accessing SNS data and methodological issues of large-scale data collection, but also because the construct validity of SNS measures is unknown. By and large, the literature to date has attempted to link various SNSs measures to various mental health symptomologies, mostly collected using self-report measures rather than data generated by SNSs. Although such research has demonstrated some preliminary and putative associations between SNS activity and mental health measures, the current literature is still in its infancy and arguably lacks rigor in design, offering limited insights into its theoretical significance and plausibility. In this review, we will provide an account of the theoretical importance of using data generated from SNSs in mental health research and provide a brief overview of the literature published in this area to date.

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