How social is social media for transgender and gender-diverse youth? Association of online social experiences with internalizing mental health problems.

How social is social media for transgender and gender-diverse youth? Association of online social experiences with internalizing mental health problems.

Publication date: Mar 17, 2024

Adolescents spend a critical amount of their free time on the Internet and social media. Transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) adolescents, who report elevated rates of mental health issues, especially internalizing problems, have both positive and negative online social experiences (e. g., support and cyberbullying). This can have both beneficial and/or harmful effects on their mental health. Given the lack of research, the present study examined TGD adolescents’ online (social) experiences and the association of positive and negative online social experiences with internalizing problems. The sample consisted of n = 165 TGD adolescents (11-18 years) diagnosed with gender dysphoria who attended a Gender Identity Service for children and adolescents (Hamburg GIS) in Germany between January 2020 and December 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Positive (use of online support networks) and negative online social experiences (cyberbullying or other adverse online interactions) were assessed using study-specific items and internalizing problems using the Youth Self-Report. Frequencies of various online (social) experiences were analyzed, and a multiple linear regression analysis was performed to test their association with internalizing problems. In total, 42% of participants reported positive online social experiences (use of online support networks) and 51% of participants reported negative online social experiences (cyberbullying or other adverse online interactions). There was no significant association between negative online social experiences and internalizing problems but between positive online social experiences and more internalizing problems (adjusted R = . 01). TGD adolescents may seek online support, especially when struggling with mental health problems. Therefore, it is crucial to support youth navigating these online spaces more safely and positively and to empower them to buffer against potentially harmful experiences. Furthermore, strengthening offline relations with peers and family members is pivotal, given their importance for TGD adolescents’ mental health.

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Concepts Keywords
Cyberbullying Gender-diverse
December Internet
Germany Mental health
Psychiatry Social media
Transgender Transgender

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease VO time
disease VO report
disease VO LACK
disease MESH gender dysphoria
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO document
disease MESH eating disorders
disease VO USA
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH psychological distress
disease MESH bullying
disease MESH marital status
disease VO device
drug DRUGBANK Flavin adenine dinucleotide
disease MESH psychiatric diagnosis
disease MESH asthma
pathway KEGG Asthma
disease MESH allergies
disease MESH suicide
disease MESH suicidal ideation
disease IDO algorithm
drug DRUGBANK Adenosine
drug DRUGBANK Proline
disease MESH behavioral problems
drug DRUGBANK Indoleacetic acid
disease VO Gap
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease MESH Violence
disease IDO intervention
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease IDO process
disease MESH loneliness

Original Article

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