Social network websites are defined as web-based services that provide individuals with an opportunity to connect and communicate with other people for sharing information. The use of these networks is growing dramatically, which may have various effects on individuals’ lives.
The present study hypothesized that using social networks has a negative effect on educational performance, psychological well-being, and mental health.
We selected 315 students from Shiraz, Iran, in 2017 (185 girls and 130 boys with an average age of 16.88 and 15.9 years, respectively) from six high schools at the fourth grade to evaluate the effect of social networks on educational performance, psychological well-being, and mental health. Students were selected using a convenience sampling method. The research plan was sub-projects of correlated plans and data were analyzed by stepwise regression analysis with SPSS version 21 at a significance level of < 0.05. The exclusion criteria included students’ dissatisfaction and age of under 15 and above 18.
We found that 90.8% of the students were using social networks. In general, virtual networks had negative (-0.25; P = 0.001) and positive (0.23; P = 0.001) correlations with educational performance and depression, respectively. Particularly, social network websites had positive relationships with anxiety and stress in male students and negative relationships with grade point average (GPA) and psychological well-being in female students. Regression analysis revealed that social networks had significant effects on depression, educational performance, psychological well-being, stress, anxiety, and GPA. Among different social networks (Telegram, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook), Instagram negatively predicted educational performance, psychological well-being, and depression while WhatsApp and Telegram predicted depression and GPA, respectively. Moreover, Telegram, in particular, predicted stress and anxiety among male students.
These findings necessitate to pay attention to this phenomenon and its consequences.