Kinderen zitten op een trap met hun smartphone in hun handen
Kinderen zitten op een trap met hun smartphone in hun handen

SOCIAL: Social Online Connectedness in Adolescents' Lives

2024 until 2028
Project member(s)
Dr J.L. Pouwels (Loes)
Project type

What is this research about?

Although there is much concern in society today about the possible negative effects of social media use among young people, recent research has shown that the effects of social media use on social connectedness vary from person to person. In fact, some adolescents increase in loneliness, while others feel more connected to their friends and classmates. So far, we do not know how to explain these differences.

Researchers at Project SOCIAL want to better understand how the effects of social media use on social connectedness differ across adolescents, social contexts, and time scales. In which context does what apply, when, and to whom?

What do we gain from this research?

  • Insights from this research allow us to better understand how young people's offline and online lifestyles and social relationships are related. 
  • This research helps young people better understand their social media use and its effects.
  • This research helps parents, teachers, politicians, policymakers, and clinicians to tailor social media policies and interventions to the individual needs of youth.

What does the research look like?

Project SOCIAL uses a variety of research methods:

Focus Groups

In focus groups, we engage with young people to tailor the content, design and goals of the research to the interests of adolescents. 

Daily diary study

Adolescents answer questions daily over several weeks via an app on their phones. The questions are about social media use, social relationships and interactions, and social connectedness with friends and peers.


In the interviews, we asked some adolescents to reflect on their social media use during the diary study.

Class visit

During the class visits, students complete questionnaires about their social media use, well-being and social connectedness with peers. They also answer questions about the social status (e.g., who in your class is most popular, who are your friends) and behavior (e.g., who bullies others, who is always online) of their classmates. By surveying all youth in the first through fourth years of high school annually, teachers can see how students are doing at a specific time and how they are developing over a longer period of time.

Download social media usage history

We teach young people how to retrieve their own social media usage history. We do this once after completing daily questionnaires. We ask at the end of this session to donate some of this data to science. We can see who young people interact with on social media, when and in what ways, but we cannot see the messages they send or receive to others.

Why participate?

  • Adolescents who have participated before found it very fun and interesting.
  • Adolescents gain more insight into their own social media use.
  • Adolescents get a financial reward and a chance to win fun prizes.
  • Adolescents can contribute to science in an accessible way.
  • Teachers receive a classroom social safety report based on the class visits. This report is following the guidelines of the Dutch Inspection of Education and the Social Safety Act. Also, teachers receive a report based on which they can identify students at risk for social and emotional problems.

More information or sign up?

Are you excited about this project, or would you like to know more about it? If so, please email us at projectsocial [at]


NWO Veni grant.


This project is done in collaboration with researchers from project JEDI:

Contact information