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To what extent is use of social media related to online prosocial behaviors among adolescents? A systematic review. - project description

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We will carry out a systematic review to investigate the association between use of social media and online prosocial behaviour among adolescents.


Vi ønsker å undersøke evidensgrunnlaget for sammenhengen mellom bruk av sosiale medier og online pro-sosial atferd blant ungdom. Dette vil bli gjort gjennom en systematisk kunnskapsoppsummering.


Adolescents today are avid users of social media. According to the 2015 Pew Research Center Report, 92% of teenagers report going online daily and 24% say they go online almost constantly. Furthermore, 76% of these teenagers report they used social media (Lenhart et al., 2015). Youths therefore spend a lot of their time on and do their social activities through social media. The effects of adolescents` social media use is a fairly new area of research. Studies have suggested associations between the use of social media (as independent variable) and symptoms of depression (Baker & Algorta, 2016), anxiety (Keles, McCrae, & Grealish, 2019), addictive behavior (Andreassen, 2015), sleep (sleep onset latency, sleep duration and sleep quality) (Garett, Liu, & Young, 2018; Kaimal, Sajja, & Sasangohar, 2017; Levenson, Shensa, Sidani, Colditz, & Primack, 2016), alcohol consumption (Boyle, LaBrie, Froidevaux, & Witkovic, 2016), isolation (Primack et al., 2017) and antisocial behavior (e.g. cyberbullying) (Hamm et al., 2015).  Thus, much previous research has focused on the negative effects of social media use. Less attention has been directed at the positive behavior being carried out on social media, as well as the possible positive effects of social media.

There is evidence to suggest that adolescent online prosocial behavior is more prevalent than online antisocial behavior (Erreygers, Vandebosch, Vranjes, Baillien, & De Witte, 2016). The relationship between social media use and prosocial behavior is not clearly established, and as of now, to my knowledge, no review or summary regarding this relationship is to be found in the literature. 

Online prosocial behavior is not well understood, but research on offline prosocial behavior has established a clear positive association with well-being and happiness (Aknin, Whillans, Dunn, & Norton, 2019). Researchers suggest a positive feedback loop, as more feelings of well-being and happiness increase prosocial behavior. Some recent studies indicate that this relationship also pertains to online prosocial behavior (Erreygers, Vandebosch, Vranjes, Baillien, & De Witte, 2019). A review of the literature on the relationship between social media use and online prosocial behavior therefore seems necessary, as that potential relationship might shed light on the potential benefits of adolescents` social media use. The aim of the present study is to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relationship between social media use and online prosocial behavior in adolescence (and to identify possible influencing factors).

Type of studies: quantitative, non-experimental.

Age group: 13-19 years.

Date of publication limit: 2014 – (last five years).

See the full project description at Cristin for more information about results, researchers, contact information etc.

Project participants

Project leader

Jens Christoffer Skogen, Avdeling for helsefremmende arbeid, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Project participants

Christoffer Lysenstøen, University of Bergen

About the project