Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy) Honours


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences


Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Sonya Girdler


Introduction: The widespread acceptance and availability of the Internet and subsequent advent of social networking sites, is believed, in part, to be responsible for the reduction of face-to-face interaction, particularly among young adults. This has lead to suggestions that while virtual participation may enhance our ability to communicate with others; it may in fact come at the detriment of wellbeing. Depression is one of the leading causes of mental illness for young people, with social isolation and exclusion being identified as key risk factors for depression among this group. The aim of this review was to systematically review available research examining the relation between online social participation and the psychological wellbeing of young adults. Methodology: Electronic searches of five electronic databases (ERIC, PsycINFO, Scopus and Web of Science) were used to identify and locate studies for inclusion in this review. Each database was searched for studies conducted since 2000 to May 2011. Results: Seven articles met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 4 190 participants. Of the seven studies four were cross sectional surveys, two were non-experimental pre-test post-test studies and one was a longitudinal study. Conclusion: This review found significant evidence to suggest that greater time spent in online chat was associated with increased feelings of loneliness post social exclusion. Social networking sites were not found to facilitate strong bonds between individuals, but rather complement to face-to-face interaction. Social networking sites do potentially provide powerful networking tools that individuals can turn to in times of need.


Thesis Location