The effects of screen time and social media on depressed feelings and suicidal thoughts among undergraduates


  • Jeremy Evans Coastal Carolina University
  • Kassidy Smith Coastal Carolina University
  • Hailey Wimmenauer Coastal Carolina University
  • Dr. Sharon Thompson Coastal Carolina University



Mental Health, Undergraduate, Screen time, Suicide, Depression, Social media


Beginning around 2011, there have been increases in mental health issues among teens and young adults. A possible reason for this rise has been the growth of social media through electronic communication; therefore, this study examined social media usage and suicide among undergraduates. An online survey was developed and after Institutional Review Board approval, was completed by 506 undergraduates (67.9% female, 32.1% male) at 23 southeastern and midwestern higher education institutions. Among these undergraduates, it was found that 24% thought about suicide in the past year and 4.2% had actually attempted to kill themselves. Those who considered killing themselves in the past year were significantly more likely to feel the need to compare themselves to others when browsing social media (p<.0001), felt their life was worse than others based on what they saw on social media (p<.0001), and had feelings of sadness or suicidal thoughts after browsing social media (p<.0001) compared to those who had not thought of suicide. Undergraduates who had attempted suicide in the past year were more likely to feel their self-image was negatively affected by interaction with social media websites (p<.05) and also had feelings of sadness or suicidal thoughts after browsing social media (p<.05) compared to those who had not attempted suicide. Females were more likely than males to report negative effects of browsing social media (p<.001). These significant associations between suicidal thoughts and social media usage should be studied further to better devise health education and advocacy campaigns among this population.


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How to Cite

Evans, J., Smith, K., Wimmenauer, H., & Thompson, S. (2021). The effects of screen time and social media on depressed feelings and suicidal thoughts among undergraduates. Journal of Student Research, 10(1).



Research Articles