Jul 1, 2013
Comput. Hum. Behav.
Adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at risk for significant social and emotional difficulties, yet show strengths and interests in screen-based technology. Previous studies have found that screen-based social media use can enhance social functioning for adults in the general population, yet studies have not yet examined social media use among adults with ASD. The purpose of this study was to examine patterns and social-emotional correlates of social media use in a sample of 108 adults with ASD. Participants completed self-report measures of social media use, friendship quality and quantity, and loneliness. The results indicated that the majority of participants (79.6%) used social networking sites (SNS), and that the most commonly cited reason for using SNS was social connection. Adults with ASD who used SNS were more likely to have close friends, and those who used SNS for social engagement reported closer friendship relationships. However, greater offline friendship quality and quantity, not social media use, were associated with decreased loneliness in the current sample. This was the first study to explore patterns of social media use among adults with ASD, andthe findings suggest a need for further longitudinal research to examine the relations among these variables over time.