Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

Document Type



Adolescents, particularly teenage girls, use social media substantially more than any other age group (Boneva et al., 2006; Gross, 2004; Padilla-Walker et al., 2020). Greater social media use has been linked to internalizing and externalizing problems; however, specific social media behavior and the relation to internalizing and externalizing problems is unknown. Additionally, how parent-adolescent communication impacts the relationships has not been explored. This is concerning as specific social media behavior, such as ruminating with peers and general social media addiction, has been linked to adolescents’ psychological well-being. (Sarmiento et al., 2020; Shensa et al., 2017; Nesi et al., 2020). The present study seeks to address these limitations by examining the relationships between positive (i.e., enabling privacy settings, interacting with family on social media) and negative (i.e., catfishing others, hiding posts from parents) social media use and internalizing and externalizing problems. Additionally, how parent-adolescent communication impacts these relationships will be examined. Participants included 357 adolescents from the ages of 13 to 17. Moderation analyses supported the hypotheses that parent-adolescent communication moderated the relationship between positive social media use and psychological functioning. Subsequent mediation analyses supported a mediation of parent-adolescent communication between negative social media use and internalizing problems. No moderation or mediation analysis was supported between negative social media use and externalizing problems.



Committee Chair

Mary Lou Kelley