Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Young people’s online communication and its association with mental wellbeing: Results from the 2019 Student Health and Wellbeing Survey

Anthony, Rebecca ORCID:, Young, Honor ORCID:, Hewitt, Gillian ORCID:, Sloan, Luke ORCID:, Moore, Graham ORCID:, Murphy, Simon ORCID: and Cook, Steven ORCID: 2023. Young people’s online communication and its association with mental wellbeing: Results from the 2019 Student Health and Wellbeing Survey. Child and Adolescent Mental Health 28 (1) , pp. 4-11. 10.1111/camh.12610

[thumbnail of Child Adoles Ment Health - 2022 - Anthony - Young people s online communication and its association with mental wellbeing_.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (224kB) | Preview


Background Online communication has become an integral aspect of daily life for young people internationally. Very little research has examined whether the association between social media use and well-being depends on who young people engage with (i.e. real, or virtual friendships). Methods Data were drawn from a subsample of students (N = 38,736) who took part in the School Health Research Network (SHRN) 2019 Student Health and Well-being (SHW) survey. A series of multivariable regression models were used to assess the association between who adolescents were communicating with online and well-being, controlling for confounders: passive social media use; friendship quality; and cyberbullying. We also tested whether these associations were modified based on gender. Results Students are highly engaged on social networking sites, and these sites are used to communicate with existing friendship groups and develop virtual friendships. Frequent online communication with best friends (b = .340, p < .001) and bigger friendship groups (b = .397; p < .001) was associated with higher levels of well-being. However, the frequency of online contact with virtual friends made online was negatively and significantly associated with well-being (b = −.760; p < .001), with a larger negative association for girls than boys. Conclusions Online communication with virtual friendship networks were associated with lower mental well-being, with stronger associations for girls than boys; however, frequent online communication with ‘real’ friends was associated with better well-being. Our results indicate the importance of considering the nature of adolescent online communication, rather than just its quantity, in developing interventions to improve adolescent well-being.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1475-3588
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 21 October 2022
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2023 02:53

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics