All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Aaron Fobian

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Background Digital media use has become an integral part of society and may contribute to adverse physical and mental health outcomes, particularly among adolescents. However, few studies have examined the longitudinal effects of adolescent digital media use across the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. As adolescents present as a highrisk group for the adverse effects of digital media use on mental and physical health, the present studies identified digital media use trajectories from adolescence into young adulthood and examined these trajectories as predictors of sleep duration, cardiometabolic health, and mental health outcomes in young adulthood. Methods Participants (Mage=15.53; 56.86% female, 66.89% White) from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health database who provided digital media use data in Waves I-IV were included. A group-based modeling approach was used to identify trajectories of digital media use across Waves I-IV. General linear models assessed the relationships between trajectory group and sleep duration, body-mass-index, waist-to-height ratio, cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, blood pressure, depressive symptomology, working memory, and short-term memory. Multinomial iv logistic regression models assessed the relationship between trajectory group and type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression diagnoses, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Logistic regression models also assessed the relationship between parental support, family connectedness, face-to-face interactions with peers, and self-esteem as predictors of digital media use trajectory group. Results Four digital media use trajectories emerged: Group 1 “increase” (9.97%), Group 2 “low” (73.36%), Group 3 “decrease” (13.94%), and Group 4 “high” (2.73%). Individuals with low patterns of digital media use (Group 2) had 1) lower body-massindex as compared with individuals in Groups 1, 3, and 4, 2) lower waist-to-height ratio as compared with individuals in Groups 1 and 4, 3) higher high-density lipoprotein as compared with individuals in Group 1, 4) increased short-term memory as compared with individuals in Group 4, and 5) decreased odds of suicide attempts in the past 12 months at Wave IV as compared with individuals in Groups 3 and 4. Conclusions Longitudinal patterns of low digital media use had a significant protective effect on physical and mental health outcomes in young adulthood, including lower body-massindex and waist-to-height ratio, higher high-density lipoprotein and short-term memory, and decreased odds of suicide attempts in the past 12 months at Wave IV.



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