Objective: Perceived social support
(PSS) has consistently been found to predict lower depression scores. Its
impact has largely been explained with reference to direct effects and
stress-buffering. The increasing popularity of social networking and related
phenomena raises the issue of the value of online PSS. This study assessed the
impact of online PSS on depression scores, in terms of both direct effects and
stress buffering, while controlling for offline PSS.
Methods: A cross-sectional, survey style
design was employed. Data from 460 undergraduate students were gathered online.
Measures included the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and
the Short Depression-Happiness Scale.
Results: Both a direct effect and a
stress-buffering effect of online PSS were identified, when controlling for
offline PSS, sex, age, neuroticism, extraversion and stress.
Conclusions: In this sample online PSS
contributed to lower depression scores, over and above the impact of offline
PSS. This suggests that online relationships can contribute meaningfully to