Social-media use continues to grow, especially among emerging adults. Users on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are going through a period of change and uncertainty in their lives and are relying on social media to get them through it.

But the impact of increased social-media use can be damaging to their mental health and well-being. More time spent on these sites by emerging adults negatively affects their ability to handle their emotions and increases their perceived stress – leading to worsening mental health.


Eric Rasmussen, associate professor and director of the doctoral program in Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication, (806) 834-6870 or eric.rasmussen@ttu.edu


  • Emerging adults are classified as 18- to 29-year-olds. This is the age range where people are facing more changes and stressors in their life than they have before.
  • Social-media use tends to increase during this age range and time period.
  • Social-media use has an indirect effect on emerging adults’ mental well-being through emotion regulation and perceived stress.
  • The process is a cycle – the more people use social media, the more it impacts their ability to regulate their emotions and increases their perceived stress which impacts their mental well-being. This leads to them using social media even more, starting the cycle over again.


  • “The more time emerging adults spend on social media, the less time they have to talk about the negative emotional experiences they’re having. In other words, those negative emotions tend to fester. That leads to stress, and that stress in turn leads to problems with mental well-being.”
  • “It’s important to remember that, as humans, we are social beings and we need some face-to-face social interaction with our peers. We get mental, social and emotional benefits from that, and it appears we’re not necessarily getting those from social media.”
  • “Social media is very isolating. It can be used to connect with other people, but in this study, we found that it can be isolating, and it doesn’t allow us to share our emotions and deal with stress in the ways we need to.”