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Posted: September 6th, 2023

The Adverse Effect of Wealth Disparity Exposed through Chinese Social Media on Mental Health among Chinese Adolescents

The Adverse Effect of Wealth Disparity Exposed through Chinese Social Media on Mental Health among Chinese Adolescents
The Negative Impact of the Wealth Gap Revealed by Chinese Social Media on the Mental Health of Chinese Adolescent

I. Introduction

In recent years, the wealth gap in China has widened, leading to increased social and psychological pressure, especially among Chinese adolescents. Social media platforms have further exacerbated the wealth gap by promoting conspicuous consumption and the flaunting of wealth, leading to negative effects on adolescents’ mental health. This paper aims to investigate the negative impact of the wealth gap revealed by Chinese social media on the mental health of Chinese adolescents.

II. Research Background

According to the Youth Mental Health Survey 2022, 14.8% of Chinese adolescents nationwide have some degree of depression risk, of which 4.0% have high depression scores and belong to the risk group of major depression, and 10.8% have the risk group of mild depression. Moreover, the suicide rate among adolescents in China has increased in recent years, highlighting the urgent need to investigate the underlying causes of poor mental health (Investigation Report on the Mental Health of Chinese Adolescents in 2022, 2023).

The negative impact of poverty on mental health is well established in the literature. Poverty can affect social adjustment and quality of life, leading to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Digital media use can also contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including distraction, online bullying, and fewer face-to-face interactions (Dashiff, DiMicco, et al., 2009; Liu, He, et al., 2019; Elsevier, 2019).

III. Literature Review

There is a negative correlation between socioeconomic status and mental health issues in adolescents from low-income families (Wan, 2008). Adolescents’ mental health may be directly impacted by poverty, leading to poor social adjustment and quality of life (Dashiff, DiMicco, et al., 2009). Access to digital media can result in distraction, online bullying, and fewer face-to-face interactions, all of which can increase anxiety and depression (Liu, He, et al., 2019). Adolescents use digital media more often than ever before, and some of the negative consequences of access to these digital media include online bullying, behavioral issues, and social disorder (Elsevier, 2019).

IV. Research Gap

While there is existing literature on the impact of the wealth gap caused by rapid social and economic development or the flaunting of wealth on the mental health of adolescents, there is a gap in research on the impact of the wealth gap and the flaunting of wealth on the mental health of Chinese adolescents. This study seeks to address this gap in the literature.

V. Methodology

This study will use a quantitative methodology to explore the impact of the wealth gap revealed by Chinese social media on the mental health of Chinese adolescents. Data will be collected through questionnaires that will be distributed to 100 Chinese adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 through social media platforms such as Weibo, Douyin, Wechat, and Red Book. The questionnaire will include items that measure mental health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as items that measure the influence of social media on attitudes towards wealth and consumption.

Quantitative methodology is appropriate for this study because it allows for data collection from a large sample size, which is adequate to represent the whole population. The data will be analyzed quantitatively, which will provide reliable and factual data. To address issues such as data loss and disclosure, data collected will be stored in a hard drive, and respondents will not be required to provide their names, ensuring anonymity of the research.

VI. Research Analysis

The open and rapid dissemination of information in modern society has made adolescents feel overwhelmed by miscellaneous information, leading to feelings of anxiety and stress. Social media platforms in China have created a culture of conspicuous consumption, where users flaunt their wealth and material possessions, leading to increased pressure on adolescents to conform to societal expectations. The data collected through the questionnaires will be analyzed quantitatively to examine the impact of the wealth gap and the flaunting of wealth on the mental health of Chinese adolescents.


This study will contribute to the existing literature on the impact of the wealth gap and the flaunting of wealth on the mental health of adolescents, specifically in the context of China. The findings of this study will inform policymakers and stakeholders on the need to address the negative impact of the wealth gap and the promotion of conspicuous consumption on adolescent mental health. The study will also provide valuable insights for parents and educators on how to promote positive mental health outcomes among Chinese adolescents in the context of social media use.

Dashiff, C., DiMicco, W., Myers, B., & Sheppard, K. (2009). Poverty and adolescent mental health. Journal of Child and Adolescent, Psychiatric Nursing, 22(1), 23-32.
Fiorillo, A., Del Vecchio, V., & Sampogna, G. (2021). The challenge of mental health during COVID-19 outbreak: experience from Italy. Psychiatria Polska, 55(4), 625-633.
Kim, J. E., & Dabbagh, N. (2015). Social networking sites in higher education: An exploration of student attitudes and participation. The Internet and Higher Education, 26, 1-8.
Liu, P., He, J., & Li, A. (2019). Upward social comparison on social network sites and
impulse buying: A moderated mediation model of negative affect and rumination. Computers in Human Behavior, 96, 133–140.
Reiss, F. (2013). Socioeconomic inequalities and mental health problems in children
and adolescents: A systematic review. Social Science & Medicine, 90, 24-31.

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