Use of Social Media by Young Adults with Schizophrenia

Poster C29, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Alex Shulman1; 1Center for Social Innovation (C4)

Schizophrenia is a complex clinical syndrome manifested by cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties that commonly interfere with social relationships. For young people with this disorder, social isolation can be particularly harmful. With social media, young adults with schizophrenia may have increased opportunities to establish and maintain social relationships. We surveyed 39 young adults (ages 18-35) with schizophrenia and a comparison group of young adults without a mental illness to compare patterns of social media use, examine the impact of use on social support and well-being, and inform the potential for web-based resources. Almost everyone in our study indicated that they were a member of a social networking site, with the majority on Facebook. Young people with schizophrenia were more likely to use social media apps that were less interactive, such as YouTube or online games. Participants with schizophrenia were also more likely to meet someone in person that they first met online using Facebook. Social media use was not correlated with amount of contact with friends and family, level of loneliness, size or satisfaction with support networks, or perceived stigma. However, greater online gaming was associated with an increase in the perception of social support from friends. Half of the respondents with schizophrenia were interested in using a social media platform specific to people with mental illness. In qualitative interviews, people discussed the potential for social media to be a “double edged sword.” It offers new avenues for connection but comes with the risk of feeling rejected or ignored.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

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