First of all, it is essential to notice that the informational technologies took an immense leap in progress over the past two decades. One could hardly doubt that the Internet became an integral part of the everyday routine of a vast number of people across the world. However, it should also be noted that such development of the informational technologies can have an adverse impact on people’s social and psychological attitudes. One of the principal aspects of concern is the growing use of social media sites and platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. It is argued that people should limit their use of social media due to its possible negative influence. This paper aims to (1) discuss the previous thesis, (2) to support it with the arguments from scholarly literature, (3) to retrieve some arguments against the given thesis, and (4) to come to reasonable conclusions on the topic.
Addictive Potential of Social Media and Mental Disorders
It is possible to start with the observation that the use of the Internet has immense addictive potential. Accordingly, it should also be noted that addictions of any kind usually correlate with the development of mental disorders. In their research, Andreassen et al. (2016) investigated the question of obsession with social networks and video games in the context of the symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Their study is based on the broad cross-sectional survey, in which 23 533 adults in the range between 18 and 88 years participated (Andreassen et al., 2016).
The authors found out that there is a significant and profound connection between the compulsive and excessive use of social media and video games and the symptoms of such mental disorders as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and others (Andreassen et al., 2016). The common stereotype of males being more addicted to video games and females being more dependent on social networks has also been proved by the results of the study. Additionally, Andreassen et al. (2016) found out another peculiar correlation: being single is also significantly related to the addictive use of social media and video games. Therefore, it is possible to state that one should limit the amount of time on social media due to its addictive potential and possible negative outcomes.
Self-Esteem Issues and the Development of Narcissism
Further, another aspect of the social networks’ addictive potential should be discussed. In a more recent study, Andreassen, Pallesen, and Griffiths (2017) investigated the correlation between the excessive and abusive use of social media platforms with the development of narcissism and the issues with self-esteem. It was found that the individuals of lower age, education, income, self-confidence, and being single appear to be more addicted to the social networks (Andreassen et al., 2017).
The results of the study under discussion make it possible to claim that the excessive use of social media enhances people’s self-esteem issues. The platforms such as Instagram appear to be promoting the narcissistic behavior. Individuals with low self-esteem tend to use social networks as a means of feeding their ego and inhibiting the negative self-concept that they acquired in the process of growing up (Andreassen et al., 2017). This assumption is especially correct concerning females, who develop higher levels of addiction to social media platforms due to more significant issues with self-confidence (Andreassen et al., 2017). The following section will discuss the negative consequences of the social networks abuse in the context of female-specific issues.
The Issues of Perceived Body Image
As it was stated previously, women tend to be more addicted to social media, which is proved by several studies (Andreassen et al., 2016; Andreassen et al., 2017). However, there is a more female-specific issue which leads to the misuse of social media. In their study, Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell (2015) focus on Facebook as a source of distress for numerous women. Facebook, being one of the most visited and used sites on the Internet with over a billion of users across the world, is also the most popular social media amongst young women (Fardouly et al., 2015). The results of the study under discussion indicate that many women spend their time on the social network, comparing their appearance with other women and, notably, with the body images which are promoted by different corporations. The idealized nature of these role models has a negative impact on the self-esteem and self-confidence of young women (Fardouly et al., 2015). This observation leads the discussion to another issue, which will be mentioned in the following section.
Social Media as a Perceived Source of Credible Information
It could be hardly doubted that one of the primary reasons for using the Internet in general (and social media platforms in particular) is the availability of various information. However, it should also be noted that easily accessible data can influence people’s perception of the online sources to be reliable, without questioning their credibility. In the research by Westerman, Spence, and Van Der Heide (2014), it is argued that in some situations people tend to be misled in their search for reliable data, especially in the emergency situations. The authors also argue that “the gatekeeping function seems to shift away from producers of content and onto consumers of that content” due to to the increased amount of new informational channels (Westerman et al., 2014, p. 173). However, it is possible to notice that the average users of social media cannot always correctly handle the mentioned gatekeeping function. As a result, overwhelming streams of different information make the decision-making on the Internet significantly complicated.
Promotion of Adverse Drinking Habits on Social Media
Another aspect of the issue under discussion is the capability of social media platforms to promote negative behavioral patterns. It could be noted that the copulative effect of different materials on social media sites (SMS) on the development of unhealthy habits can be immense. In their study, Boyle, LaBrie, Froidevaux, and Witkovic (2016) argue that there is a significant correlation between “exposure to peers’ alcohol-related SMS content and later-drinking among first-year college students” (p. 21). The platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are used by numerous young people, and the content which is posted there often relates to the promotion of deviant drinking habits. It is also possible to mention that the first-year students, exposed to this material, tend to perceive alcohol consumption as an integral part of socializing in college. Additionally, the authors state that there are significant gender differences, related to the issue under discussion: according to the study, males show a higher correlation between the exposure to peers’ alcohol-related social media content and the development of drinking habits in first and second semesters (Boyle et al., 2016). Therefore, it is possible to conclude that social media sites can have an adverse impact on individual’s behavioral patterns.
Arguments in Favor of Social Media Use
Further, it is essential to discuss the positive aspects of the social media use since it is apparent that it cannot have only the negative influence. First of all, it is evident that social media platforms are the means of accessing to information and people across the world. Thus, the Internet made possible to provide education for numerous groups of people who are not able to access it conventionally. Secondly, social media became an integral part of the modern life; therefore, its use, at least in some way, is inevitable for the majority of the population. The following subsections will discuss more specific arguments.
Improvement of Consuming
It is possible to notice that the Internet made the interaction between companies and customers significantly more accessible and diverse. Hajli (2014) observes, online communities, in which users generate content and interact with other users, can be perceived as a new opportunity for businesses to expand. As a result of the author’s research, it is stated that the appropriate promotion of a company or market on social media platforms can facilitate the customer’s intention to buy a product and to increase his or her trust (Hajli, 2014). However, this aspect can also have negative consequences since the companies can manipulate people, using social networks.
Self-Expression and Professional Success
Further, it should be noted that the Internet is vastly used to develop and enhance one’s career. In the article by Utz (2016), it is stated that sites such as Linkedin increase an individual’s chances of finding a suitable job and succeeding in the professional field. The author used a social capital framework as a foundation for his research, and, as a result, Utz (2016) found out that users of Linkedin and Twitter have higher informational benefits about the fields of their professional interest, compared with Facebook users. However, it should be mentioned that one of the primary limitations of the research is that it is not possible to determine whether Linkedin actually increases informational benefits or whether successful people tend to use the site (Utz, 2016).
In another article by the same author, it is stated that social media can be used as a platform to enhance the sense of connectedness (Utz, 2015). It is argued that self-disclosure can have a positive influence on an individual’s personality. The author includes not only the traditional sense of intimacy in the notion of self-disclosure but also the public displays of one’s self-expression. However, it should be noted that there are people on social media that can abuse such self-disclosure, which can lead to significant negative consequences.
Finally, based on the discussed material, it is possible to come to several conclusions. First of all, this paper observed numerous arguments in favor of limiting the use of social media, including the addictive potential and related mental issues, development of narcissism, unrealistic body image perception, and unhealthy behavioral patterns of alcohol consumption. In additions, several arguments against the primary thesis were discussed. However, these arguments were not strong enough to outweigh the arguments in favor of the thesis. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that each person should evaluate his online habits and related behavioral patterns; and, respectively, to decrease his or her use of social media.
Andreassen, C. S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), 252.
Andreassen, C. S., Pallesen, S., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addictive Behaviors, 64, 287-293.
Boyle, S. C., LaBrie, J. W., Froidevaux, N. M., & Witkovic, Y. D. (2016). Different digital paths to the keg? How exposure to peers’ alcohol-related social media content influences drinking among male and female first-year college students. Addictive behaviors, 57, 21-29.
Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P. C., Vartanian, L. R., & Halliwell, E. (2015). Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. Body Image, 13, 38-45.
Hajli, M. N. (2014). A study of the impact of social media on consumers. International Journal of Market Research, 56(3), 387-404.
Utz, S. (2015). The function of self-disclosure on social network sites: Not only intimate, but also positive and entertaining self-disclosures increase the feeling of connection. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 1-10.
Utz, S. (2016). Is LinkedIn making you more successful? The informational benefits derived from public social media. New Media & Society, 18(11), 2685-2702.
Westerman, D., Spence, P. R., & Van Der Heide, B. (2014). Social media as information source: Recency of updates and credibility of information. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 19(2), 171-183.