Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Theodore V. Cooper


Latina college students, on average, spend approximately 30 hours per week on social media, highlighting the pervasive influence of social media on their lives. While social media can facilitate interpersonal relationships, its impact on mental and physical health is evident in the literature. Problematic social media use has been associated with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and decreased life satisfaction. Additionally, exposure to idealized images on social media platforms often leads to lower body satisfaction, particularly among women. Social media may also influence eating behaviors through the abundance of food advertisements and contribute to sedentary behavior, as individuals spend significant amounts of time on their phones rather than engaging in physical activity. While taking a break from social media has shown promise in improving mental health outcomes, its effects on other aspects of health remain uncertain. Thus, the present study assessed the effects of a social media break intervention grounded in Self-Determination Theory (SDT) on various health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, stress, well-being, body image, healthy eating, physical activity, and sleep. Additionally, the study explored whether the intervention influenced participants’ basic psychological needs related to autonomy competence, and relatedness. Latina college students (N = 221; M_age= 19.84) completed a demographic questionnaire, objective and subjective measures of weekly social media use, the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress scale, the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being scale, the Body Image States scale, the Healthy Eating Scale – 5, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire – Short Form, the Insomnia Severity Index, the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire – Autonomy subscale, the Perceived Competence Scale, the Basic Psychological Needs scale – relatedness subscale, and an evaluation survey online before being randomized into the intervention or control group. The intervention group abstained from social media for a week, while the control group continued using social media as usual. A total of eight 2 (pre, post) X 2 (iWeek, control) mixed ANOVAs assessed changes in pre- and post-intervention scores on each outcome variable for iWeek compared to the control condition. Results indicated improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, and body image satisfaction among the intervention group. However, no significant effects were observed for well-being, healthy eating, or physical activity. Interestingly, sleep showed improvement favoring the intervention condition. There were no changes in autonomy, competence, or relatedness scores. Overall, the study replicates previous findings regarding the positive effects of a social media break on mental health outcomes. The observed effects on body image satisfaction and sleep are nuanced and warrant further investigation to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these improvements. By shedding light on the potential benefits of social media breaks for various aspects of health, this study contributes to a deeper understanding of how Latina college students can manage their social media use to promote overall well-being.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

134 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Roberto Sagaribay