J.A.VAINGANKAR1, R.M.VAN DAM2, E.SAMARI1, S.CHANG1, L.S.E.SEOW1, Y.C.CHUA1, N.LUO2, S.VERMA1, M.SUBRAMANIAM1
Institute of Mental Health1, National University of Singapore2
Limited research has investigated possible beneficial impacts of social media on youth mental health. This qualitative study aimed to explore lived experiences of youth regarding the use of social media and to understand their role in improving resilience and coping in youth.
Using an interpretivist design, we conducted 25 semi-structured interviews and 11 focus group discussions with youth residing in Singapore, who were recruited through purposive sampling. Data were collected using an interview guide and transcribed verbatim. A combination of inductive and deductive coding and thematic analysis was conducted.
The average age of the participants was 20 years with almost equal proportion of men and women, and Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnicity. The youths used social media to relieve stress, cope with stressors in relationships, school or workplaces, and gain resilience in different ways. Firstly, by using social media content including participants’ personal stories, old posts, and the content shared by others. For example, participants mentioned that re-living happy memories or spending time entertaining themselves via memes gave them a chance to rest and recharge. Secondly, by using social media as an outlet for expressing their frustrations or anger in largely non-judgemental virtual platforms, our participants were able to destress, gain support and improve their coping mechanisms.
Given the propensity of social media to influence almost every aspect of the lives of adolescents and young adults, our study sheds light on the ways in which social media can serve as a positive mental health resource in youth.