Adolescent coping and social media use moderated anxiety change during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Adolescence is a sensitive period during which stressors and social disruptions uniquely contribute to anxiety symptoms. Adolescent's coping strategies (i.e., avoidance and approach) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be differentially related to anxiety symptom changes. Further, social media use (SMU) is ubiquitous and may serve as an avenue to deploy avoidant and/or approach coping. Method: Participants included 265 adolescents (ages 12–20 years; 55.8% female, 43.8% male) and one parent per adolescent. At two time points separated by ~6 months, adolescents reported on SMU and coping strategies, and parents and adolescents reported demographic information and adolescents’ anxiety symptoms. Data were collected online in the United States, from summer 2020 through spring 2021. Results: Increases in avoidant coping predicted increasing anxiety, particularly when approach coping decreased. Decreases in both avoidant coping and SMU coincided with decreasing anxiety. Older adolescents showed decreasing anxiety when avoidant coping declined and SMU increased. Conclusion: Coping strategies and SMU predicted patterns of adolescent anxiety symptom change across 6 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results highlight that coping and SMU should be contextualized within the time course of stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-195
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this