Problematic Social Media Use and Academic Performance among University Students: An Evaluation from The Middle East

Ahmed Alhusban1, 2, *, Thabet Mismar3, Abdalla Al Husban4, Karem H. Alzoubi1, 2
1 College of Pharmacy, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE
2 Faculty of Pharmacy, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan
3 Department of Networks and Communication Engineering, Al Ain University, Abu Dhabi, UAE
4 Deaprtment of Sunnah and its Sciences, Colleges of Sharia and Islamic Studies, Qassim University, Qassim, KSA

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© 2022 Alhusban et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the College of Pharmacy, University of Sharjah, P.O. Box: 27272, Sharjah, UAE; Tel: +971523634829; E-mail:



The widespread use of social media applications generated a problematic behavior of excessive and inappropriate use that has been associated with mental health problems. Available data assessed this behavior using different surrogate markers in certain university majors. This study aims to assess the effect of this behavior on academic performance, using a validated tool, across different majors.


A cross-sectional study that randomly recruited university students from three Middle Eastern countries. using an online survey. The study included 277 participants with an average age of 21.53±2.1 years. The problematic social media use (PSMU) was evaluated using the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS) and academic performance was evaluated using the GPA. Data regarding the demographics and the characteristic of social media use were collected.


PMSU was identified as an independent predictor of academic performance. The low academic performance group was more likely to use social media applications during the night, which negatively affected the ability to wake up the next day and be ready for exams.


There is a need for a more large-scale systematic evaluation of the extent of PSMU and its effect on academic performance among university students at both the regional and international levels. These analyses will help in building effective interventions to reduce the impact of PSMU on university students.

Keywords: Social media, Academic performance, University students, Applications, Mental health problems, Humans.