Morello L., Scaini S, Caputi M., Frisiello A., Forresi B. (2023). Motivations for using social media, adverse experiences, and adolescent emotional difficulties in the pandemic context. – Current Psychology – 1-12 – July 2023

Studies investigating the effects of an increasing use of social media during the pandemic on youths’ wellbeing mainly focused on screen time or Internet addiction, with mixed results. The present study aimed at investigating adolescents’ social networks use, addressing the relationship between specific motivations and psychological outcomes, also considering exposure to adversities. 1195 Italian adolescents (14–18 years) were administered the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Internet Motives Questionnaire for Adolescents. Demographic information, exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and Covid-19-stressors, and social network use were also investigated. High levels of psychological difficulties were detected, with 49.2% of adolescents reporting abnormal emotional symptoms. Coping was the motivation to use social media that more strongly correlated with psychological problems. The hierarchical multiple linear regression model explained 28% of SDQ emotional symptoms: adverse childhood experiences and coping motivation represented the strongest predictors. According to the moderation model, high levels of ACEs score reduced the differential effect of coping motivation on emotional symptoms. In the pandemic context, using social media to handle difficult emotions represented a relevant risk factor for adolescents’ psychological health, especially for those with lower previous adverse events. Future research should further investigate these findings and their clinical implications.