The digital footprints of adolescent depression, social rejection and victimization of bullying on Facebook

Yaakov Ophir*, Christa S.C. Asterhan, Baruch B. Schwarz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Online Social Networking Sites (SNSs) are immensely popular, especially among adolescents. Activity on these sites leaves digital footprints, which may be used to study online behavioral correlates of adolescent psychological distress and to, ultimately, improve detection and intervention efforts. In the present work, we explore the digital footprints of adolescent depression, social rejection, and victimization of bullying on Facebook. Two consecutive studies were conducted among Israeli adolescents (N = 86 and N = 162). We collected a range of Facebook activity features, as well as self-report measurements of depression, social rejection, and victimization of bullying. Findings from Study 1 demonstrate that explicit distress references in Facebook postings (e.g., “Life sucks, I want to die”) predict depression among adolescents, but that such explicit distress references are rare. In Study 2, we applied a bottom-up research methodology along with the previous top-down, theory driven approach. Study 2 demonstrates that less explicit features of Facebook behavior predict social rejection and victimization of bullying. These features include ‘posts by others’ ‘check-ins’ ‘gothic and dark content’ ‘other people in pictures’ and ‘positive attitudes towards others’. The potential, promises and limitations of using digital Facebook footprints for the detection of adolescent psychological distress are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume91
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Digital footprints
  • Social networking sites
  • Social rejection

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