By: Yael Dror
Social media is growing exponentially every year and is expanding to be more involved in nearly every demographic. It is important to be aware of the effects of social media as it can have an influence on one’s mental and emotional health. One important aspect of social media that isn’t discussed enough is the different types of social media use. The way one uses social media can have a big impact on their well-being. One study by Escobar-Viera et. al., (2018) was able to identify two specific types of social media use. These two types are active and passive social media use. Passive social media use is related to activities without a strong direct connection such as browsing and observing other people’s newsfeeds and profiles (Escobar-Viera et al., 2018). Active social media use is related to activities that are socially oriented such as sharing updates, sending messages, and liking other people’s content (Escobar-Viera et al., 2018). These two distinct types of behaviors have very different outcomes.
It is possible individuals might not even be aware of their type of social media use as it can be a subconscious activity at times. However, the effects of these two different types of use are very different. Passive social media use is found to be more harmful as it is positively associated with upward and downward social comparison, which predicts higher stress levels (Yue et al., 2022). Passive use of social media is also related to adolescent symptoms of anxiety (Thorisdottir et al., 2019). Active social media use involves a lot more engagement with others which was the original purpose of social media and can elicit many positive effects like feelings of belonging and less isolation.
This information is crucial to know as it can help people be more aware of their behavior on social media. It can be beneficial for one to observe and acknowledge the way they use social media in order to be mindful of how it may be affecting them. Once one is aware of their own type of social media use, adjustments can be made in order to most optimally and safely use social media.
Check back for my next blog post on ways to improve social media use if you feel it is becoming a problem in your life!
Escobar-Viera, C. G., Shensa, A., Bowman, N. D., Sidani, J. E., Knight, J., James, A. E., &
Primack, B. A. (2018). Passive and active social media use and depressive symptoms among United States adults. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 21(7), 437-443.
Thorisdottir, I. E., Sigurvinsdottir, R., Asgeirsdottir, B. B., Allegrante, J. P., & Sigfusdottir, I. D.
(2019). Active and passive social media use and symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood among Icelandic adolescents. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 22(8), 535-542.
Yue, Z., Zhang, R., & Xiao, J. (2022). Passive social media use and psychological well-being
during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of social comparison and emotion regulation. Computers in Human Behavior, 127, 107050.