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Positive and negative social media experiences and proximal risk for suicidal ideation in adolescents.

BACKGROUND: Social media (SM) has received considerable attention as a potential risk factor for adolescent suicide. Few empirical studies, however, have examined adolescents' daily negative and positive experiences on SM and its proximal impacts on suicidal ideation (SI), particularly using intensive monitoring designs.

METHOD: Adolescents (N = 60; 14-17 years; 49% girls; 62% LGBTQ+) recruited using SM across the United States and participated in an 8-week intensive monitoring protocol. Ecological momentary assessment (three brief surveys per day) asked about negative and positive SM experiences and SI (passive and active). Multilevel modelling was used to evaluate the within-person relationships between daily SM experiences (e.g. individual fluctuations compared to a person's average) and SI, controlling for average levels of SM experiences, SM use screen time, and lifetime SI.

RESULTS: Significant within-person effects of negative and positive SM experiences were associated with days when adolescents had SI. Specifically, on days when teens endorsed more frequent negative SM experiences than usual, they were more likely to report SI. However, more positive SM experiences than usual were associated with a lower likelihood of having SI. There were no significant effects of SM use ('screen time') on SI or on the reverse associations of SI on next-day SM experiences.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that SM experiences may be dynamic and modifiable risk and protective factors for SI in adolescents, whereas there is no effect of SM screen time on SI. Our results highlight that targeting negative SM experiences and augmenting the positive experiences on SM may be critical targets to improve teens' mental health and prevent suicide, rather than focusing on limiting SM screen time.

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