Independent Research: “Is the use of social media an addiction?”

Independent Research: “Is the use of social media an addiction?”

You are required to produce a research report that enables you to answer the following research
question: “Is the use of social media an addiction?”
To complete this report, you must carry out your own research (primary research), as well as
researching published sources of information about this subject area.
Your research report must be written using the recommended report format – refer to the ‘Academic
Writing Skills’ unit for more detail.
The report should be a maximum of 1,500 words in length.
Within the report, you will need to:
• Clearly explain the purpose of your report, and the research methodology that you intend to use.
• Analyse the findings from your primary research and present the data in appropriate ways so as to
support your analysis. If you produce graphs, charts and/or tables, you are advised to add these to an
Appendix at the end of your report and refer to these within your text where appropriate.
• Analyse information that you have researched from recognised, published sources. This is referred
to as a literature review.
• Compare the analysis from your primary research to the analysis of the literature review, so that you
are able to form an analytical argument as to whether or not the use of social media is an addiction.
This should result in you being able to analyse alternative points of view and evaluate data in terms of
its relevance to the argument.
• Produce conclusions and recommendations that stem from the findings of your report, and that are
relevant to issues you have raised.
• Ensure that relevant theory is referenced where appropriate, and that a references list and
bibliography are provided.
• A copy of your survey, questionnaire and/or interview transcriptions must be included in the
Tip – refer to the draft assignment plan you produced for unit 4 as this will help you to get started!
Hide Assessment Criteria
 AC 1.1: Identify and explain the rationale for a clearly focused area of study
 AC 2.1: Analyse information from a wider range of sources
 AC 2.2: Work within clearly defined parameters and established terms of reference
 AC 2.3: Discuss the theoretical concepts, methodology and principles of enquiry within
chosen discipline
 AC 3.1: Summarise a relevant and analytical argument
 AC 3.2: Analyse alternative points of view.
 AC 3.3: Evaluate data in terms of relevance to the argument
 AC 4.1: Use a standard form of referencing
 AC 4.2: Use a range of terminology and or techniques to present data effectively
 AC 5.1: Draw conclusions from the data and present the findings of the study.
 AC 5.2: Make recommendations relevant to the issues raised.


Social media addiction

Social networking sites are non-factual communities where users create their profiles as they
interact with their friends and meet other people based on their interests. More so, social
networking sites are web-based services where individuals construct a semi-public profile within
a bounded system as they articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection. The
web users connected view and to traverse their list of links and those created by other users
within the system. The mass appeal of social networks on the internet could potentially be a
cause of concern, in particular when looking at the gradually increasing amounts of time persons
are spending online (Ellison, 2013 pp.210-230). On the internet sites, users engage in various
activities some of which end up being addictive. Instead of becoming addicted to the social
networking sites medium itself, some internet users develop addictive personalities to specific
social media activities they carry out in the networks. Specifically, Young argues that there are
five different types of internet addiction, such as computer addiction, information overload, net
compulsions, cyber sexual addiction, and cyber relationship's addiction that is an addiction to
online relationships. From a clinical experts perspective, ‘Social Networking Sites Addiction
Disorder’ bring addiction criteria, like neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism,
mood modifying experiences, tolerance, and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be
present in some people who use social networking sites excessively (Cohen, 2015). Moreover,
scholars have suggested that a combination of biological, psychological and social factors
contributes to the addictive elements that may also hold true for social networking sites
addiction. Recent scientific literature has significantly suggested that social media usage can be
addictive concerning emerging phenomenon of internet social network usage.

An elaborate literature review was conducted using academic database Web of knowledge as
well as Google Scholar. The following terms, as well as their derived terms, were used: social
network, online network, adduction, compulsive, excessive use, abuse, comorbidity, and
personality. The studies assessed whether they include parameters like empirical data referred to
usage patterns, motivations for usage, and negative consequences of use, addiction and or
comorbidity and social media specificity. Different empirical studies were identified from the
literature review which specifically assessed social networking sites addiction.
Social networking sites are perceived to be a global consumer phenomenon, and they have
experienced a recognizable increase in its usage in the recent years. Of all internet users, about
one third takes part in social networking sites and ten percent of the total time used online is used
on social media sites (Ellison, 2013 pp.210-230). Looking at usage, the results of the Parents and
Teenagers survey 2006 with an estimated sample of 935 participants in America showed that
55% of youths used social networking sites in that selected year. The reasons for the reported
usage were found to be keeping in touch with friends as other users used it to make new friends.
Keeping in touch with friends was more common in boys than observed in girls. Girls were
found to use social media sites to maintain their contacts with their existing friends rather than
making new ones. Besides, half of the teenagers in the survey visited their social media sites at
least once in a day which was indicative of the fact that to keep an attractive profile, sites
frequent visits are necessary, and this is a factor that facilitates potential in the excessive use of
social media and its addiction. Moreover, based on the results of consumer study, the overall
social media usage increased by around two hours every month to about 5.5 hours as active
participation rose by 30% from 2009 to 2010.

In addition to the above findings, the results of the presented research indicate that compared to
the general population, teenagers and students make the most use of social media networking
sites by using the Web 2.0 features. Also, there appear to be gender differences in social media
usage. The specifics of which are only vaguely defined and thus they require more empirical
investigation to social media usage. More so, social networking sites are used mostly for social
purposes of which getting more information from friends pages appears to be much lovable.
This, in turn, is linked to the activation of the appetitive system, which indicates engagements in
the activity of social networking. The social engagement activity further stimulates the
neurological pathway related to addiction experience of social media networking sites.
Another parameter of social networking sites is the motivation that comes as result of its
addiction. Facebook in particular, as a difference as it is a function of motivation. According to
uses and gratification theory, media are used in a goal-directed way for gratification and need
satisfaction, and these have similarities with addiction (Cohen, 2015). Therefore persons with
higher social identity, higher altruism, and higher Tele presence have tendencies of using social
media networking sites because they perceive encouragements as they participate in social
networks. The above studies were backed up by Barker who analyzed and found collective self-
esteem and group identification positively relating to peer group communication through social
media networking sites.
Personality traits are also associated with the extent of social networking sites usage. The
findings of some studies show that people with significant offline networks, who seem to be
more extroverted, and who poses higher self-esteem, use Facebook for social uplifting.
Conversely, the size of person’s online social networks has a relation in a positive way with life
satisfaction and well being. These systems have neither an effect on the size of the offline

networking nor the emotional closeness to persons in real life networking. In support of social
media addiction, scientist studied high self-disclosure on social networking sites, and they found
that it to have a positive correlation with measures subject o well-being. Despite this, it remains
in question whether low self-disclosure on social networks may be related to higher risk for
potential addiction. As the users disclose more personal information on their pages, they tend to
put themselves at the risk of adverse feedbacks leading to lower well-being. Due to this, the
association between self-disclosure on networking sites and addiction needs to be addressed
empirically in future studies.
Researchers have indicated that the excessive use of upcoming technologies has an addiction to
young people. Adding on to this, scholars have hypothesized that vulnerable young people with
different tendencies are in particular prone to social networks engagements in a severe addictive
manner. Separate studies were conducted to analyze social media addiction among young
students who were mainly from the teenage groups. In the first study, 233 undergraduate
university students were included in the survey using a different prospective method to find high-
level use intentions and senior usage of social networks through an expounded model of the
theory of planned behavior. One week after the completion of the first questionnaire, participants
were asked to show how many days during the last week that had visited social networking sites.
The participants indicated that they on average visited the social sites at least four times a day.
The results of the study found that past behavior, attitude, subjective norm, and self-identity
importantly found both behavioral intention as well as actual personal behavior (Milgram et al
2012 pp.61-67). Also, there were seen addictive tendencies with regards to social networking sites
usage significantly found in self-identity and feelings of belongingness. As a result of identifying

oneself as a social network user and looking for a sense of self-belongingness on social networks
appeared to be at a risk of addiction on the social networking sites.
In another study, an Australian university student random sample of 201 participants was
conducted to assess personality factors through the short version of the NEO Personality
Inventory. The addictive tendencies scale included three items which measured salience,
withdrawal, and loss of control. The findings of a multiple regression analysis found that high
extraversion and low conscientiousness scores importantly predicted both addictive tendencies
and amount of time spent on social networking sites. The researchers indicated the relationship
between extraversion and addictive behaviors could be due to the fact which explains social
network usage satisfies the extroverts need to socialize.
In a different study, Karaiskos et al. show a case of a 24- year old female who used social
networks to a level that her behavior affected her professional and personal life. As a result, she
was referred to a psychiatric clinic. She usually used facebook for almost five hours every day
and got dismissed from her job because of continued checking of her social networking sites
accounts rather than working. In addition to the woman’s excessive use of social media which
led to significant impairment in a variety of areas, she also developed anxiety symptoms as well
as insomnia which suggestively points to the clinical relevance of social media networking
With the emergence of social networking sites such as Facebook, overall social network sites
have increased in a way that they are considered a global consumer phenomenon. Facebook
users alone are estimated to be around 500 million in the world who participate actively in the
social network. Studies suggest that between 55% and 82% of teenagers and middle-aged adults
use social networking sites regularly. Regarding social demographics, the studies conducted

found that overall social network usage patterns differ. Females use social networks for
communication with other peer group members. On the other hand, males use the social
networks to compensate themselves socially, learning and also social activity gratifications.
Other studies that studied age and social media usage found that social media sites usage varies
as a function of age. It found that older people rarely used social media networking sites and they
were a small number of internet consumers (Milgram et al 2012 pp.61-67). The younger generations
differed from the latter group as a more significant percentage of young persons are addicted to
social networking sites usage.
Overall, the different engagements in social media networking sites like social searching and also
the personality traits that were found to be associated with greater extents of social media usage
may serve as an anchor point for future studies regarding explaining populations at risk of
getting social media addictions. Researchers are recommended to look for the factors that are
more specific to social networking sites usage addiction. The factors include: pragmatics,
attractions, communications and different expectations of social networks use because these may
predict the cause of addiction among the various groups of users. Finally, social networks on the
internet are Web2.0 phenomena that offer the potential to become part of collective intelligence.
However, the much mental health problems of excessive consumption and addiction to social
media usage are yet to be established using the best scientific methods.

Cohen, E., 2015. Five Clues That You Are Addicted to Face book-CNN International-Breaking, World,
Business, Sports, Entertainment and Video News.
Ellison, N.B., 2012. Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of
Computer‐Mediated Communication, 13(1), pp.210-230.
Travers, J. and Milgram, S., 2013. The small world problem. Psychology Today, 1, pp.61-67