Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 1456–1468 | Cite as

Parental Control of the Time Preadolescents Spend on Social Media: Links with Preadolescents’ Social Media Appearance Comparisons and Mental Health

  • Jasmine FardoulyEmail author
  • Natasha R Magson
  • Carly J Johnco
  • Ella L Oar
  • Ronald M Rapee
Empirical Research


Time spent on social media and making online comparisons with others may influence users’ mental health. This study examined links between parental control over the time their child spends on social media, preadolescents’ time spent browsing social media, preadolescents’ appearance comparisons on social media, and preadolescents’ appearance satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and life satisfaction. Preadolescent social media users (N = 284, 49.1% female; aged 10–12) and one of their parents completed online surveys. Preadolescents, whose parents reported greater control over their child’s time on social media, reported better mental health. This relationship was mediated by preadolescents spending less time browsing and making fewer appearance comparisons on social media. Parental control over time spent on social media may be associated with benefits for mental health among preadolescents.


Social media Parental mediation Social comparison Body image Depression Life satisfaction. 



We would like to thank all of the research assistants and interns who have worked on this project. In particular, we thank Justin Freeman for coordinating the data collection.

Authors’ Contributions

JF participated the design and analysis of this study and coordination and drafted the manuscript; NRM participated in the design and coordination of the study and helped draft the manuscript; CJJ participated in the design and coordination of the study and helped draft the manuscript; ELO participated in the design and coordination of the study; RMR conceived this study, and participated in its design and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


The Australian Research Council funded this research (grant number FL150100096).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all parents in the study, and informed assent was obtained from all preadolescents.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Emotional Health, Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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