Social-networks use as adaptive or maladaptive strategy for coping with stress

Social networks are frequently used to distract, procrastinate, or cope with stress. We aimed to investigate how (problematic) social-networks use affect stress perception in interaction with different stress recovery conditions. A total of 104 participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Three groups underwent a stress induction with subsequent stress recovery via (1) using Facebook, (2) reading magazines, or (3) waiting. Another group (4) waited without stress induction. Stress perception was repeatedly assessed with the State-Trait-Anxiety-Inventory. Facebook use and reading magazines decreased acute stress indicating adaptive coping strategies. Stress-recovery conditions and symptom severity showed significant interactions. Facebook use was not effective for individuals with high symptom severity in contrast to non-digital strategies or for individuals with low symptom severity. The usage of social networks may be an adaptive strategy for coping with stress for some people, it is maladaptive for individuals having a problematic usage.


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