Samantha Strong

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: While studies suggest smartphone screen time and social media time may increase the risk of poor mental health, most studies rely upon self-reports. Of the few that examine objectively measured time, they are all plagued by social desirability bias due to apps being installed on user’s phones prior to study initiation. This investigation avoids both of those methodological limitations to examine the role of smartphone and social media screen time in depression of college students.  Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey of college students who own iPhones at a higher education institution in the northeast US was conducted in October 2022. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine the association between objectively measured smartphone screen time or social media time and depression while controlling for race/ethnicity, sex assigned at birth, social support, social status, and year in school. Results: Among those who provided objectively measured smartphone and social media time (N=341), each additional hour of daily social media time was associated with 20% increased odds of depression but there was no change associated with average daily smartphone time. Conclusions: When using robust, objectively measured smartphone screen time data, time spent on social media, not on smartphones, is associated with depression among college students. Interventions should be developed to effectively limit social media time among college students.

Faculty Mentor

Kelsey Gately, O.T.D., OTR/L

Academic Discipline

College of Health & Wellness



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