We investigated behavioral and neural mechanisms in the relation between social media use (SMU) and self-concept, as well as longitudinal developmental outcomes. Adolescents and young adults (N = 150, 11–21 years old at T1) rated themselves on 60 traits in the academic, physical and prosocial domain, and also indicated how they thought peers would judge them (reflected-peer-judgements). Longitudinal questionnaires (1- and 2-year follow-up) were collected to assess positive (prosocial behavior, self-concept clarity) and negative (clinical symptoms) long-term outcomes. Results indicated that heavier self-reported SMU was linked with lower difference scores between self-judgements and reflected-peer-judgements. Lower SMU was related to more positive ratings from self-judgements vs. reflected-peer-judgements. SMU was also associated with less positive self-concept, particularly in the academic domain (boys and girls) and physical domain (girls). Neurally, increased SMU was linked to heightened mPFC-activity during self-judgements compared to reflected-peer-judgements, and increased activity during physical compared to academic and prosocial self-judgements. Longitudinal analyses indicated no evidence for long-term effects of social media use, self/reflected-peer-difference scores and mPFC-activity on clinical symptoms, prosocial behavior or self-concept clarity. This study highlights the complex relationship between social media use and wellbeing and future research is needed to confirm the lack of long-term effects.

Adolescence, Development, Medial prefrontal cortex, Self-concept, Self-esteem, Social media
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100921, hdl.handle.net/1765/134340
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Peters, S. (S.), Van der Cruijsen, R. (R.), van der Aar, L.P.E. (L. P.E.), Spaans, J.P. (J. P.), Becht, A.I, & Crone, E.A. (2021). Social media use and the not-so-imaginary audience: Behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the influence on self-concept. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 48. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100921