Northwestern Events Calendar


Munmun de Choudhury: CogSci & HCI+D Present, "Does Social Media Support or Worsen Mental Well-Being? What Quasi-Experimental Studies Can Tell Us"

When: Tuesday, April 30, 2024
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Where: Swift Hall, Swift 107, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Meredith Hawley  

Group: Cognitive Science Program

Category: Academic


Social media platforms continue to accrue important roles in our lives. Popular discourse has discussed the impact of social media on a variety of outcomes, from political polarization to issues of social justice. Is social media good or bad when it comes to mental well-being? This talk seeks to answer this question through a series of quasi-experimental observational studies, looking to a population that stands to both benefit as well as get harmed online -- those who struggle with mental illnesses. First, through propensity score modeling of language change online, I will situate how social support can help to reduce suicidal thoughts. In contrast, a second study will employ an interrupted time series and difference-in-differences approach to reveal the alarming ways online harassment can aggravate mental health outcomes. Ultimately, I will discuss how the answer to this question depends on the context. Adopting a human-centered lens, I will discuss the complex role of social media in patients' social reintegration efforts following a major psychiatric episode. At a moment in our society where popular discourse is laden with moral panic around the role of social media in mental health, I will conclude with pragmatic paths forward that can amplify its positive uses while mitigating the harms, for those marginalized by mental illness.

About Munmun de Choudhury

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