Social Media Effects on Adult Behavior
Social networking sites (SNSs) have experienced a rapid expansion in popularity since their inception in the early 2000s. Facebook is the second most visited website in the world after Google and has an estimated 800 million active users (Twenge et al 298). Of adult Internet users, approximately 65% visit SNSs such as Facebook, Myspace, or LinkedIn (Twenge et al 298).SNSs offer a unique platform for users to share information about themselves via a personalized web page and interact with others in their social networks. Despite the name ‘‘social networks,’’ much user activation SNSs is self-focused. Users can post pictures of themselves, complete a personal proﬁle listing their personal information and preferences, join common interest groups, and post status updates for other users to see and comment on. However, since others can view user-generated content, users have to be conscious of the way they are presenting themselves. Given the potential effects of SNSs on how individuals communicate with others and see themselves, research in psychology has tried to gauge emerging progressive and adverse media’s impact on individual’s behavior, their personality traits and self-views, and how they shape their identities(Twengeetal298).
An analysis of over 50 Facebook proﬁles found that users used components of the proﬁle (e.g., pictures) to imply identity claims (Twenge et al299).The selves they presented in their proﬁles were socially desirable, but realistic, and reﬂected the selves they wished to present to others. Users often manage the impression they are projecting in their proﬁles by selecting information to share and actively limiting negative information (e.g., un-tagging unﬂattering photos). Regardless of this maintenance, research using zero-acquaintance raters has found that SNSs proﬁles are effective in communicating an accurate impression of the user’s personality (Twenge et al 299). Thus, self-presentations tend to be selective and carefully managed, but not false. This behavior has ramiﬁcations for identity exploration, especially among adolescents who are the biggest users of SNSs and most likely to be undergoing identity formation. Qualitative research ﬁnds that, young adults admit to using SNSs to explore their identities (Adewuyi et al 106).
A study of undergraduate Facebook users further supports this notion, ﬁnding that users report that sharing their personal preferences, and posting photos helps them express themselves (Adewuyi et al 106).A majority reported that they used Facebook to interact with people they already knew which may promote self-disclosure, and personal feedback, furthering identity development. If, as the research suggests, SNSs help shape identity, then what speciﬁc aspects of identity are shaped? Do SNSs encourage the development of certain traits and self-views among young adults? Several media outlets have speculated that SNSs, given their self-presentational nature, may encourage more positive self-view. In the present research we aim to determine how SNSs affect two positive self-views: self-esteem and narcissism (Adewuyi et al 106).
Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by an elevated sense of self, entitlement, and overt grandiosity (Adewuyi et al 107). Narcissistic individuals have unrealistically positive self-views, especially on traits such as status, physical appearance, social popularity, and intelligence .They tend to be highly extraverted and are adept at eliciting attention from others. To maintain their inﬂated self-views, narcissistic entities seek continual reinforcement from the social environment primarily by seeking out prospects to gain courtesy from others such as bragging, wearing ﬂashy clothing, dating attractive ‘‘trophy’’ spouses, and purchasing eminent symbols(Adewuyi et al 107). SNSs use may increase narcissism by expediting self-regulation tactics. Narcissists’ Facebook pages are more self-promoting, predominantly in the main photos, wall posts, and status updates. Thus, SNSs may offer narcissists with another avenue through which to garner attention from others, express their identity, and reinforce their self-concept.
Related to narcissism is self-esteem, an inclusive affirmative appraisal of the self (Adewuyi et al 108). . Characters with high trait narcissism normally have abstemious high self-esteem. However, there are several imperative variances between narcissism and self-esteem. High self-esteem individuals tend to rate themselves as superior to others across a range of traits, whereas narcissists rate themselves as superior on agency only. Thus, high self-esteem individuals view themselves positively, but still care about others. SNSs may intensify self-esteem through positive self-presentation (Adewuyi et al 108). Participants who viewed their Facebook pages had higher self-esteem relative to a control group, particularly when they edited their personal proﬁle. However, viewing others’ Facebook pages did not affect self-esteem. Facebook pages represent a socially desirable depiction; participants were essentially evaluating a more polished version of themselves, increasing self-esteem (Adewuyi et al 108).
The world has been amalgamated by the touch of a button, bringing friends, families as well as business associates to a platform of virtual interaction (Adewuyi et al 108). At the same time, social media has rudely interrupted every day and minute socializing by the presence of selfies, food photos and group pictures. Social media, instead of spending time with friends and family, now fascinate the average human. Families sitting together are now lost in silence except for the occasional outburst of laughter from an amusing video received. Students or the unemployed or partially employed persons, nurses, teachers, traffic police and bank clerks have eyes on the screen of android/smartphones on social media pages when just they get a small gap in their the duty (Twenge et al 299). It is generating many glitches in quality and quantity of work, concentration in studies, and work and in many other related facets.
The adverse impacts of media activity dominate (Twenge et al 298). It means that the mass media, mainly TV, but also internet resources try to bring out the worst human traits from average people. These are preconception, bias, hate, egoism. Another fact that may be favorable for the negative media effects is ignorance and lack of education. Over the last decade, the amount of time adolescents spend on screen activities (especially digital media, such as gaming, social media, texting, and time online) has gradually amplified, hastening after 2012 after the majority of Americans had smartphones (Twenge et al 300). By 2017, the average young adults spent more than six hours a day of leisure time on just three digital media activities (internet, social media, and texting). By 2018, 95% of the United States adolescents had access to a smartphone, and 45% said they were online “almost constantly” (Twenge et al 300).
During the same period that digital media use increased, adolescents began to spend less time intermingling with each other in person, including getting together with friends, socializing, and going to parties. In 2016, iGen college-bound high school seniors spent an hour less a day on face to-face interaction than GenX adolescents did in the late 1980s (Twenge et al 302). Thus, the way adolescents socialize has profoundly shifted, moving toward online activities, and away from face-to-face social interaction. Other activities that typically do not encompass screens have also deteriorated: Adolescents spent less time attending religious services, less time reading books and magazines , and (perhaps most crucially) less time sleeping (Twenge et al 302). These declines are not due to time spent on homework, which has declined or stayed the same, or time spent on extracurricular activities, which has stayed about the same. The only bustle adolescents have spent significantly more time on during the last decade is digital media. The amount of time adolescents spend online increased at the same time that sleep and in-person social interactions declined, in tandem with a decline in general happiness.
Several studies have found that adolescents and young adults who spend more time on digital media are lower in well-being (Twenge et al 309). For example, girls spending five or more hours a day on social media are three times more likely to be depressed than non-users ((Twenge et al 309), and heavy internet users are twice as likely to be unhappy (Twenge et al 309). Sleeping, face-to-face social interaction, and attending religious services, less frequent activities among iGen teens compared to previous generations, are instead linked to more happiness. Overall, activities related to smartphones and digital media are linked to less happiness, and those not involving technology are linked to more happiness. This creates the possibility that iGen individuals are less happy because their increased time on digital media has displaced time that previous generations spent on non-screen activities linked to happiness (Twenge et al 309).
Digital media activities may also have a direct impact on well-being. This may transpire via upward social comparison, in which people feel that their lives are inferior compared to the glamorous “highlight reels” of others’ social media pages (Twenge et al 310). Cyberbullying, another direct effect of digital media, is also a significant risk factor, cause profound psycho social outcomes including depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and tragically suicide. When used during face-to-face social interaction, smartphone use appears to interfere with the enjoyment usually derived from such activities (Twenge et al 310). For example, friends randomly assigned to have their phones available while having dinner at a restaurant enjoyed the activity less than those who did not have their phones available, and strangers in a waiting room who had their phones available were significantly less likely to talk to or smile at other people. Thus, complex use of digital media may be related to lower well-being via unswerving means or by displacing time that might have been spent on activities more favorable for well-being(Twenge et al 315).
The introduction of social media has transformed the realm in voluminous ways. It affects each individual in different habitude. Today it can be used as a very helpful tool in changing a person’s life, make people more conscious of contemporary proceedings and politics, but at the same time cause such skirmishes which can adversely influence an individual, and society at large. Despite the fact that there are some negatives associated with social media, the positives in communication all around, has made the world stronger and a better place to live in.
Twenge, Jean M., Gabrielle N. Martin, and Brian H. Spitzberg. “Trends in US Adolescents’ media use, 1976–2016: The rise of digital media, the decline of TV, and the (near) demise of print.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 8.4 (2019): 298-329.
Adewuyi, Emmanuel Olorunleke, and Kazeem Adefemi. “Behavior change communication using social media: a review.” International Journal of communication and health 9 (2016): 109-116.