Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems

Program or Major

Nutrition and Wellness

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Kevin Pietro


Social media use has increased substantially in recent years, and for the college-aged population, social media is often the leading method of communication. Research indicates this reliance on digital connection could have a negative impact on the health of young adults (Bagroy et al., 2017). The college years are a time of personal growth and defining actions, yet can also be burdened by mental health issues related to stress, anxiety, and depression (Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Acknowledging these trends, the current study explores how college students’ specific frequency and intentionality while interacting on social media relates to their psychological well-being. A brief online survey was developed, comprised of questions aiming to quantify student’s behavior while engaging on social media, as well as use of the validated Brief Inventory of Thriving Scale (BIT) to measure psychological well-being. A total of 177 students were surveyed, with an average age of 20.7, 78.5% female, and 69.5% upperclassmen from a variety of academic majors. Findings from this study indicate that students spent the most amount of time using Snapchat (2.77 avg. hr./day), Instagram (2.26 avg. hr./day), and YouTube (1.28 avg. hr./day). Participants (42.9%) expressed editing some to all of their content before posting, and 73.5% indicated checking social media right before going to bed. A Spearman's rank-order correlation did not identify any significant relationships between the number of hours spent using Instagram or Snapchat and any items of the BIT. Additionally, there was a weak, negative correlation between checking social media both when waking up (r=-0.263, p<0.001) and before going to bed (r=-0.247, p=0.001), and the BIT item “my life has a clear sense of purpose”. Therefore, social media intentionality, compared to frequency, may have a greater impact on psychological well-being than frequency.