Social Networking Service and Depression: Evidence from China

Hao-Jian Dui1, *
1 School of Labor and Economics, Capital University of Economics and Business, Zhangjia lukou, Hua Xiang, Fengtai District, Beijing, China

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© 2020 Hao-Jian Dui.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Labor and Economics, Capital University of Economics and Business, No.121 Zhangjia lukou, Hua Xiang, Fengtai District, Beijing 100070, China; Tel: +86 18612183883; E-mail:



The rapid development of Social Networking Service (SNS) all over the world has changed everyone's life, of course, China is no exception. At the same time, the possible depression caused by SNS has attracted the attention of academia, but there is little research on the impact of age heterogeneity, especially in China.


The aim of this study was to further explore the effects of SNS and some factors on depression and to find the differences in these relationships between different age groups.


Based on the data of the tracking interview of China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) in 2018 (N= 8,666), this study analyzed the relationship between SNS and depression in China and considered the heterogeneous influence in different age groups and other factors (gender, living in urban or rural, household registration, income, cognitive ability, years of education, health, relationship status, CPC membership, religion, social status, popularity). The theoretical basis of age stages is from Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development.


(1) The multiple regression analysis revealed that the depression was positively correlated with SNS dependence, on the whole. However, this effect was not always significant in every age group, and it was most positive at the ages of 16-18. (2) The depression was negatively correlated with health and popularity at all levels of age. (3) The depression appeared obviously gender difference, and it was intensifying by increasing age. (4) For the whole sample, the effects of income, cognitive ability, relationship status and social status on depression were significant, however, the situation was different for each individual age group in this article. (5) The mitigate of religious beliefs on depression was significant only at ages 41-65, and the coefficient was unstable. (6) The effects of years of education, living in urban or rural, household registration, CPC membership on depression were not significant in this study.


The impact of SNS on depression was more significant among young people, especially adolescents. A bad situation of health or popularity could increase the risk of depression. Females were more prone to depression. There were different influences of income, cognitive ability, social status, relationship status and religion on depression in different age groups.

Keywords: China, Social networking service, Depression, Heterogeneity in age, Health, Social status.