Exploratory Study: Social Media Impact on Mental Health Perception in Colombian Gen Z





Generation Z, social media apps consumption, mental health perceptions, Colombia, social networks, anxiety


This exploratory study aimed to discern and comprehend the social media usage patterns and their perceived impact on mental health among Generation Z students at a Colombian university. Employing a mixed methods approach, data were collected from 361 Colombian Gen Z individuals. A focus group guide and a self-reported questionnaire, informed by focus group results, were utilized to evaluate diverse constructs. Qualitative data underwent iterative categorization (IC), while quantitative data underwent statistical analysis using SPSS software. Participants predominantly utilized social media for communication and entertainment, with indications of a link between social media use and anxiety. However, participants did not perceive social media as significantly influential in their decision-making processes or relationships. Notably, female participants reported higher anxiety levels. This study of Colombian Gen Z freshmen unveiled social media's notable influence on body image, mental health, and social rewards. It underscores the necessity for tailored interventions to foster positive online experiences, address gender-specific challenges, and reassess brand engagement strategies within this demographic. Additionally, it highlights the need for further research within the Colombian university context. Though the employed instrument exhibited acceptable validity and reliability levels, future research could benefit from enhancements. This paper represents the initial endeavor to analyze social media consumption among Generation Z in Colombia through a mixed methods approach. Examining social media consumption patterns and their impact on mental health contributes to academic discourse on this relationship, informing the design of appropriate pedagogic strategies while considering reported gender differences. This study contributes valuable insights into the intricate interplay between social media use and mental health among Colombian Gen Z students. Addressing these dynamics is pivotal in formulating targeted interventions and strategies to support the mental well-being of this demographic within university settings. Future investigations should focus on refining measurement tools and delving deeper into nuanced aspects of social media's influence on mental health within educational environments.

Author Biographies

Luisa Fernanda Manrique Molina, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Dr. Luisa Fernanda Manrique Molina, Assistant Professor of Business at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, earned her PhD in Business Education from Leipzig University, Germany (2023). As an alumna, she contributes to higher education initiatives backed by DAAD, currently focusing on integrating new technologies into business higher education and marketing research.

Camilo Andrés Ramírez Rojas, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Camilo Andrés Ramírez Rojas M.Sc., adjunct professor at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, holds degrees in Psychology and Neuroscience from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, honored for best undergraduate work. His expertise includes market research, data analysis, organizational psychology, marketing, and consultancy services for diverse companies.