Excessive Use of Social Media

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Social media has become an important feature in the lives of many millenials. We see people often glued to their phones, scrolling through the endless feed and checking the amount of likes they’ve accumulated on their most recent picture. Habitual and compulsive use of social networking sites has been linked to loneliness, depression, and daily stress (Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., et al. 1998) as well as fear of missing out (FOMO), a psychological state in which people become anxious that others within their social spheres are leading much more interesting and socially desirable lives (Przybylski et al., 2013). Decreased self evaluation (i.e., self esteem) and feelings of inadequacy are also thought to be correlated with excessive internet use as a result of social comparison to those who have positive characteristics (Wills. 1981; Wood, 1989; Marsh & Parker, 1984; Morse & Gergen, 1970; Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & LaPrelle, 1985). Previous studies further address negative outcomes due to excessive use as a means to compensate for areas in which individuals are lacking offline (Kim et al., 2009). It is hypothesized that there is a relationship between social media use and depression and anxiety. Fear of missing out is a psychological state that has become a topic of interest in the recent years. This fear is a result of feeling excluded from ones’ social connections and has been linked to a decrease in psychological well being (Bevan, et al., 2012) as well as decreased levels of life satisfaction and general mood (Przybylski et al 2013). Individuals fearing social ostracism are likely to compensate by increasing their social media presence by editing and updating content on their profiles (Trepte & Reinecke, 2013) to boost self worth (Ellison et al., 2007). Przybylski et al., (2013) find that individuals experiencing FOMO may find themselves in a state of “self regulatory limbo,” defined as a cycle of behavior in which an individual seeks to reaffirm identity and self-esteem by spending more time online, which further amplifies the fear of missing out. Burglass et al., (2017) proposed several hypotheses, one of which positively associates FOMO with increase in self promotion and as a mediating variable between SNS and psychological well being. The sample consisted of 500 UK Facebook users and were instructed to complete an extensive online survey about social networking behaviors, psychological well being, and experience of online vulnerability (Buglass et al., 2017). The results indicate that increased use of social media leads to increased levels of FOMO which would suggest why individuals exhibit self-promoting behaviors on their social media profiles.

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Past research has shown that people tend to believe that other social media users have better lives than they do (Chou & Edge, 2012). Vogel et al., (2014) explains the two different types of social comparisons, upward and downward. Upward comparison involves comparing themselves with superior others with positive characteristics, and downward when one will compare themselves with inferior others with negative characteristics. These social comparisons can either be harmful of beneficial to ones’ well being. Vogel et al., (2014) hypothesized that frequent Facebook users would have poorer self esteem and that this relationship would be mediated by upward social comparison. Their sample consisted of 145 undergraduates (106 being female). Participants were instructed to take an online survey in addition to completing surveys that would measure self-esteem and social comparisons. Results indicated that increased exposure to Facebook lead to poor self evaluation as well as reports of increased social comparisons of both upward and downward.

Kim et al., (2009) discuss the cause and effect of compulsive internet usage as opposed to previous studies that propose problematic internet use (PIU) is to blame for increased psychosocial problems. This study hypothesized that psychosocial problems such as loneliness and depression could be exacerbated as a result of failure to properly socialize with people outside of the internet. Consequently, this causes individuals to seek solace via online interaction to compensate for deficits in social skills which in turn leads to lower academic grades, missing class or work, and social engagement (Kim et al., 2009). Previous studies also suggest that online interactions serve as a shield for individuals struggling with poor social skills due to greater anonymity (Davis, 2001). The sample consisted of 635 undergraduate students, 58% of which were female and 42% were male. Participants were instructed to complete a survey stating their favorite online activities, as well as completing several items which were used to measure loneliness, social skills, and preference for social interaction. The results of this study supported their hypothesis that loneliness did in fact increase internet usage and negative outcomes.

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Excessive Use Of Social Media. (2021, Jul 08). Retrieved July 1, 2022 , from
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