Associations Between Media Use, Mental Health, and Risky Sexual Behaviors in Adolescence

Renae A. Merrill, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


Guided by the ecological “technosystem,” researchers examined data from 10,930 adolescents completing the CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) looking for associations between television, social media, depressive symptoms, suicidality, and sexual risk behaviors. Regression results indicate media use is an important factor in adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing problems. Social media use was associated with significantly poorer mental health, while hours spent watching television was linked with significantly higher sexual risks. Findings from this research are important for multi-systemic prevention and intervention efforts aimed at promoting adolescent resiliency, particularly among vulnerable youth who are most susceptible to media influences.