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    Social network use, social support and mental health in adolescence: A systematic review

    Fedorowicz, Sophia, Phillips, Edward and Braithwaite, Elizabeth ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4902-2262 (2021) Social network use, social support and mental health in adolescence: A systematic review. Psychreg Journal of Psychology, 5 (2). ISSN 2515-138X

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    Abstract

    Background: Social network sites (SNS) are a preferred method of communication for many young people. It is therefore of increasing importance to examine the possible benefits and detriments of SNS use to adolescent mental health. One possible benefit to adolescents who engage with SNS is increased access to social support from peers, which may promote positive mental health. Aim: We aimed to systematically review the existing research that has examined relationships between SNS use, social support and mental health in adolescents. Method: The protocol for this review was registered with PROSPERO. A systematic literature search was conducted using PRISMA guidelines for studies published between 2003 and 2021 to identify research that examined the relationships between SNS use, social support, and mental health in adolescents. Study quality was appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Results: 11 articles met the criteria for inclusion in the current review. Findings show that adolescents use SNS to access social support when experiencing stressful life events and perception of support is important for enabling positive impact on mental health. SNS offer marginalised groups a way to access social support that may be lacking in their offline life. There is a clear difference between males and females in how adolescents use SNS and how active and passive SNS use impacts on mental health. Included studies is mostly cross-sectional in design and investigation into the differences between male and female adolescents experiences of using SNS were limited. Conclusions: Despite widespread publication of the adverse impact of SNS on adolescent wellbeing, access to social support is a clear benefit with positive impacts on adolescent mental health. However, the benefits of perceived social support appear to be context specific.

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