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Published Online: 12 December 2019

#StateOfMind: Family Meal Frequency Moderates the Association Between Time on Social Networking Sites and Well-Being Among U.K. Young Adults

Publication: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 22, Issue Number 12


Family belonging may influence relationships between the amount of time spent on social networking sites (SNS) and well-being. We examined the SNS and well-being association among young adults and investigated whether different markers of family belonging moderated this association. SNS, well-being, and family data (n = 2,229) were collected from adults aged 16–21 years living with their parent(s) in the United Kingdom. Participants were classed as nonusers (0 hours/weekday spent chatting or interacting with friends through social Web sites), moderate (nonzero to 4 hours/weekday), or heavy users (4+ hours/weekday). Multivariable linear regressions examined the SNS use and well-being associations; interaction terms tested whether these varied by family belonging (family meal frequency, strength of family support, and importance of family to personal identity). Well-being scores were lower for heavy users of SNS compared with moderate users (p = 0.044), and for those sharing few or no family meals (p < 0.001). The SNS use and well-being association was significantly moderated by family meal frequency (p = 0.009). Among those reporting no family meals, well-being scores were lower for heavy users versus nonusers (22.4 vs. 25.3). Well-being scores were similar across the SNS use categories among those having more family meals. Among heavy users of SNS, young adults having no family meals may be particularly vulnerable to the harms of being online. Our findings highlight the importance of minimizing the harms of heavy SNS use, including support for families to enable them to develop and build young adults' resilience to the stresses and anxieties that potentially accompany online social networking.

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Published In

cover image Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 22Issue Number 12December 2019
Pages: 753 - 760
PubMed: 31841647


Published online: 12 December 2019
Published in print: December 2019


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Memta Ramchand Jagtiani
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Yvonne Kelly
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Daisy Fancourt
Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Nicola Shelton
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Shaun Scholes [email protected]
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Address correspondence to: Dr. Shaun Scholes, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, United Kingdom [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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No funding was received for this article.

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