Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jazmin Reyes-Portillo

Committee Member

Samantha Coyle

Committee Member

Hannah Szlyk

Committee Member

Michael Bixter


There is mounting concern that social media use among young adults has contributed to the increase in depression in this population, particularly college students. Passive social media use (i.e., browsing or following behavior) has been linked to higher rates of depression and other mental health symptoms among college students. However, scant research has focused on factors that may be used to alter passive social media use and decrease depression, such as mindfulness. Thus, the current study aimed to examine 1) the association between passive social media use and mindfulness, 2) to assess the mechanisms by which mindfulness may influence passive use, such as social comparisons and fear of missing out (FoMO), and 3) to assess whether mindfulness is indirectly related to decreased depression via its association with social comparisons, FoMO, and passive use. A path analysis was conducted to test the study's hypotheses. We recruited 500 undergraduate students aged 18-30 currently enrolled at Montclair State University. Participants completed an online survey assessing the degree to which they engage in passive social media use, social comparisons, and FoMO, and their level of mindfulness. Mindfulness was negatively associated with passive social media use. Path analyses suggest that mindfulness was indirectly related to passive social media use via social comparisons and FoMO. More specifically, higher levels of mindfulness were associated with less social comparisons and FoMO, which in turn, was associated with lower passive social media use. Likewise, path analysis results suggest that increased mindfulness was related to fewer depressive symptoms via its impact on social comparisons, FoMO, and passive social media use. Increasing mindfulness may be useful for decreasing social comparisons, FoMO, and passive social media use and may be an important target in interventions aimed at promoting adaptive social media use and decreasing depression.

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