Problematic Social Networking Site Use and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review of Recent Large-Scale Studies

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Zaheer Hussain (School of Human Sciences, College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom) and Mark D. Griffiths (International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom). Full PDF.

Background and Aims

Research has shown a potential association between problematic social networking site (SNS) use and psychiatric disorders. The primary objective of this systematic review was to identify and evaluate studies examining the association between problematic SNS use and comorbid psychiatric disorders.

Sampling and Methods

A literature search was conducted using the following databases: PsychInfo, PsycArticles, Medline, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Problematic SNS use (PSNSU) and its synonyms were included in the search. Information was extracted based on problematic SNS use and psychiatric disorders, including attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, and stress. The inclusion criteria for papers to be reviewed were (i) being published since 2014 onwards, (ii) being published in English, (iii) having population-based studies with sample sizes >500 participants, (iv) having specific criteria for problematic SNS use (typically validated psychometric scales), and (v) containing empirical primary data reporting on the correlation between PSNSU and psychiatric variables. A total of nine studies met the predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Results

The findings of the systematic review demonstrated that most research has been conducted in Europe and all comprised cross-sectional survey designs. In eight (of the nine) studies, problematic SNS use was correlated with psychiatric disorder symptoms. Of the nine studies (some of which examined more than one psychiatric symptom), there was a positive association between PSNSU and depression (seven studies), anxiety (six studies), stress (two studies), ADHD (one study), and OCD (one study).

Conclusions

Overall, the studies reviewed showed associations between PSNSU and psychiatric disorder symptoms, particularly in adolescents. Most associations were found between PSNSU, depression, and anxiety.

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