Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on the normalcy of life. Similarly, social media use (SMU) has increased exponentially. This study examined the association between individuals’ perception of the psychological burden related to the pandemic and addictive SMU. Method A cross-sectional study was conducted between February and May 2021 in two national contexts, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Data were gathered from a sample of 1322 participants drawn from a university population who completed measures of psychological burden related to COVID-19, anxious affect, and addictive SMU. Preliminary analyses of the potential association between the study variables were conducted using bivariate correlations followed by a pre-specified mediation model. Results At a correlational level, all three study variables were positively associated with each other (r values ranged from .18 to .50 and all p values were < .05). A further mediation analysis confirmed that the total effect of psychological burden on addictive SMU was significant (β = .654, SE = .033, 95% CI .589-.720), and this relationship remained significant with inclusion of the mediator. Significant mediation was evident across the total sample as well as within each country-specific subsample. Conclusion These results provide insight into the factors that contribute to the development of addictive SMU in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings are discussed in relation to the emotion regulation function that SMU might play for individuals in the midst of emotional distress.
ASJC Scopus subject areas