Can’t stop scrolling!: pathological use of social networking sites in emerging adulthood


Media use, pathological media use, social networking, relational aggression, depression


The use of social networking websites (SNS’s) among emerging adults is very common. While evidence suggests that the use of SNS’s can be positive, some research indicates that SNS use may lead to negative outcomes. Research shows that social networking websites have the potential to be used pathologically, and that the pathological use of SNS’s may be associated with negative outcomes. Emerging adulthood has been described as a time to explore independence in a variety of ways. As such, emerging adults may be especially likely to experience pathological SNS use and the associated negative outcomes as they explore many facets of young adult life. The current study examined the mediating role of self-regulation in the associations between pathological SNS use and relational aggression and depression. Participants included 442 emerging adults who were currently registered for social networking websites. Results revealed that self-regulation mediated associations between pathological SNS use and relational aggression and depression, but not the associations between high social media use and the same negative outcomes. The discussion focuses on explanations as to why pathological SNS use is associated with negative outcomes, as mediated by self-regulation, including discussion of upward social comparison, jealousy, and a lack of self-control in online behaviors.

Original Publication Citation

Holmgren, H. G., & Coyne, S. M. (2017). Can't stop scrolling!: Pathological use of social networking sites in emerging adulthood. Addiction, Research, & Theory, 25, 375-382.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Addiction, Research and Theory




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor