How Attachment May Influence Social Media Usage: Examining Use, Cyber-friends, and Platforms

Primary author: Jordyn Randall
Faculty sponsor: Stacey Hust

Primary college/unit: Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
Category: Business, Communication, and Political Sciences
Campus: Pullman


Attachment is formed in infancy and has significant impact on how adults form interpersonal relationships. There are three main levels of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. People who are securely attached typically had a wholesome childhood and will be better at forming relationships. Social media can have a negative impact on social skills and impact interpersonal relationships depending on how social media is used and the frequency of use. There is minimal research on how attachment styles may influence social media usage. This study aims to identify the role of attachment in how emerging adults use social media by frequency, number of friends online, and number of platforms. Additionally, the importance of childhood home status in determining attachment styles and influence on social media frequency of use. A sample of 240 undergraduate students completed an online survey asking them about demographic information, their social media usage, their parental attachment, and their peer attachment. The sample was made of more females (64%) and was predominantly White (69.5%). Results show that peer attachment was significant for high social media usage for four major social media platforms and number of online friends when childhood home status was calculated as a moderator. Parent attachment was non-significant for all analyses. This could be due to two-thirds of the participants coming from nuclear families and they had secure attachment to their parents. Possible implications for this are the importance of childhood home status and how the home status may impact relationship formation for emerging adults.