School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Brian Kelley


Social Media, God, Development, Attachment, Loneliness




Social media use has become an integral and often ignored part of children’s lives because it is rationalized not to be detrimental to their future development. However, childhood social media use was associated with insecure attachment styles and possible loneliness issues emerging in young adulthood. Past research examined social media use and secular attachment in the present only, without examining spiritual attachment or loneliness levels. This is the first research study to explore longitudinally the relationship between past childhood social media use and current young adult (aged 18-24) secular attachment, spiritual attachment, and loneliness levels. The population (N = 149) aged 18-24 took a demographic survey and four online surveys that measured past childhood social media use, current secular attachment, current spiritual attachment, and current loneliness. ANOVAs analyzed the variable relationships divided up at 33% cutoff scores to create Low, Moderate, and High levels. It was hypothesized as childhood social media use levels increased then insecure spiritual attachment, insecure secular attachment, and loneliness levels would increase. It was hypothesized as insecure attachment in one variable increased then increased insecure attachment in the other relationship variable and in loneliness would relate. It was discovered as Childhood Social Media Use increased then Anxious Attachment to God and Total Insecure Attachment to God both increased, and as Total Insecure Attachment to God increased then insecure secular attachment levels and loneliness levels increased. It is suggested interventions to limit childhood social media use be implemented to avoid the downward spiral of detrimental impacts on their social, spiritual, and internal relationships when they become adults.

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