Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Ande Nesmith, Ph.D, LISW


Social Work


Emerging adults experience developmental challenges when faced with loss. They are responsible for meeting developmental milestones, such as, identity achievement as well as mourning a loss both at the same time. This complexity is heightened when adding social media. Social media grieving has become a new way of mourning losses. However, there is still little data on the impact of social media on emerging adults’ grieving experiences. A systematic review was utilized to gather and synthesize the most current and relevant empirical data. Twenty five quantitative studies were selected for analysis and key data was abstracted including, sample size, age and age category (college student, emerging adult, or young adult) from a dual process model framework. Results indicated that emerging adults are most at risk for complicated grief, which plays a role in identity achievement (without social media) and are at risk for unidentified depression or emotional distress (with social media). Furthermore social media plays a role in emerging adults’ psychosocial well-being, serving as a source for connecting with others and instant gratification. Social media is a newer more widely accepted form of grieving, providing the opportunity to keep a connection with the deceased and serving as another outlet for their emotions similar to traditional grieving practice. These findings highlight the growing importance of understanding the impact of social media and the ways that emerging adults grieve in a technologically advanced world. Future research should utilize qualitative studies in order to explore and understand the breadth of experiences.

Included in

Social Work Commons