The Protective Factor of Early Childhood Attachments and the Risk Factor of Later Life Disruptive Use of Social Media Formats: Is There a Correlation between the Two?

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


Introduction: The use of numerous social media formats (SMFs) has grown exponentially over the past several years. In many cases it has become the sole source of communication, the sole source of entertainment, and, unfortunately in many instances it exhibits the characteristics of a disruptive behavior. As a result, it has interfered with fundamental relationships. Objectives: The following research sought to examine if there is a negative correlation between the disruptive use of SMFs and an individual’s early life attachments to parents and/or other adults. Methods: In order to determine if a correlation existed, the research participants completed 4 standardized questionnaires of which 3 measured early life attachments to mothers, fathers, and/or other adults and a single questionnaire that measured their later life disruptive use of a variety of SMFs. Results: This research did identitfy a significant negative correlation does exist between the positive protective factor of early childhood attachments when measured against the risk factor of later life disruptive use of SMFs. This finding was true for research participants who identified only parental attachment figures but the strength of the correlation was enhanced when a research participant also identified an other adult as an early attachment figure. The research further identified that certain of the 9 subcategories of the Disruptive Use Scale were more significant for female research participants while other subcategories were more significant for male research participants. Conclusions: This research clearly establisheda robust negative correlation between research participants’ early childhood attachment experiences and their later life disruptive use of SMFs. However, to generalize the above findings, additional research needs to be conducted that is more inclusive of a variety of research participants.

Publication Title

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work (United States)