Manuscript: Is Extended Consumption of Social Media Linked to Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults?

Research proposal 

ABSTRACT

Interacting on social media has changed how people communicate and form relationships, consequently altering the social structure of the new generation. This literature review seeks to clarify the possibility of a relationship, whether a correlation or a causation, between social media usage and anxiety. What motivates young users to interact online, as well as the effects researchers observed on their samples showed that the main reason people use this method of communication is to connect and feel included, even though they are often exposed to more worry and anxiety. However, almost all studies found that the increase of either anxiety or happiness level was tied to personal attributes. Thus, social media as a platform has no tangible effect on individuals by itself but can help predict certain psychological patterns.

General Terms

Human Factors, theory.

Keywords

Social media, anxiety, loneliness, Facebook, Twitter, FOMO.

1.       INTRODUCTION

It is difficult to know whether social media is behind the increase of anxiety and worry the new generation is fighting or if it is the outlet needed for expression. This is because there are other factors that determine how the user is affected by this method of networking. Yet, as the studies reviewed show, it is concerning how the communication process can have a prominent negative outcome when the main reason young Internet users gravitate towards it is to avoid the stress of real life communication.

In this paper, social media interaction motives are discussed, such as anxiety as a motivation before being a possible effect, and the missed opportunities on the web. The review discusses the effects of the social interaction, and how it relates to real life, probing the question of a relationship between social media and anxiety.

2.       MOTIVES

The lack of an online presence can become very worrying in today’s age because the majority of young adults’ peers are there. Other motives also exist for why young adults might feel compelled to interact on social media.

2.1 Anxiety as a Motivation

The association between anxiety and social media is a question that is highlighted by seeking an online channel of communication instead of physical interaction. There is a strong link between the level of anxiety and loneliness and the preference for online Social Interaction POSI (Caplen, 2007). Analyzing 343 undergraduate responses to social interaction motives, Caplen found that users who are normally more anxious will prefer to interact online and more are exposed to negative outcomes compared to people who rated lower on the USLA loneliness and the Social Avoidance and distress scales.

However, Bardi and Brady (2010) found the opposite. The strongest motivation behind college students’ digital communication habits, especially instant messaging IM, was the simple need to connect. Being shy or lonely didn’t relate to neither possibility nor frequency of usage.

This conflict in results is an indication of no certain predicted outcome of being lonely and consequently interacting on social media, but points that lonely people feel the need to connect more.

2.2 Missed Opportunities

Even though studies suggest that people with low self-esteem feel safer interacting online than people with high self-esteem (Forest & Wood, 2012), the same study found that the low-esteem sample didn’t actually use social media more. In that sense, Chang (2015) classifies how university students use social media in two ways: passive and active. Passive users only want to belong in a network and only respond to what others post, while active users want to be popular, they responded and participated by posting or sharing content of their own. This can redefine what “to belong” means to passive users. If they are not participating in the process but only act as an audience, it could make them feel less included in their network.

Frequency of how social media users interact online can reflect how much thought they put into self-representation. Out of an average of 7.3 networks the average social media user belongs to, a sample of 546 participants with an average age of 21 years old reported viewing the profiles of their connections in 3.3 of these networks (Marder, Joinson & Shankar, 2012). The same sample believed that their own profiles were being viewed by connections in 3.68 networks. Moreover, 9 out of 11 participants admitted passing judgments based on what others post on Facebook while still being aware that they are being judged too (Lapides, Chokshi, Carpendale & Greenberg, 2015). Originally striving to avoid social strain, these worries can cause social media to be a more stressful way of communication.

2.3 Content Red Flags

Feedback sought by posting online can sometimes cause more worry, depending on where or by whom they are received (Bazarova, Choi, Sosik, Cosley & Whitlock, 2015).

Using an app that analyzed Facebook posts expressing emotions, researchers asked participants to rate the reactions they got on such posts. Findings confirmed that “likes” are usually taken as approvals have a positive effect, even when it contributes to a level of narcissism (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier & Cheever, 2013). However, the sample felt worried when they received a comment from someone that wasn’t a close friend on a post they shared personal emotions in.

Increasingly posting updates on social media can also be a sign of extraversion (Marshall, Lefringhausen & Ferenczi, 2015), as extraverts use outward, exhibiting communication to feel more connected. When low self-esteem users post repeatedly about their romantic relationships it can be a sign of insecurity. These findings are a result of analysis of what 555 Facebook users reported after reflecting on posting on social networks and personality.

2.4 Privacy Concerns and Risky Content

More users are using less privacy options to protect their information and posts. In the study conducted by Marder and Shankar (2012), they revealed that only a third of the participants used Facebook’s privacy settings to control who sees their posts. When they didn’t want to interact with someone they simply “unfriended” them. This was the same sample that reported that they believe their profiles are being watched more than they watch their friends’ profiles.

A recent paper on lurking on social media as an anxiety-masking strategy (Osatuyi, 2015) supports this argument. He suggested that those who don’t feel confident in their computer skills tend to become passive users which results in computer anxiety. The same strong relationship was found between computer anxiety and privacy concerns. Again the sample revealed that they weren’t taking advantage of the available privacy settings.

Adding to the dangers of not capitalizing on offered security options is the risk of self-representation by young users. The age group between 12-15 years old are the most likely to broadcast risky posts that could harm their privacy (Koutamanis, Vossen & Valkenburg, 2015). Such posts are met with negative feedback, the study found, though this negative feedback is not related to a specific age.

In such ways, anxiety, loneliness and other social problems may affect why users interact on social media.

3.       EFFECTS

With the increase of social media use, discussing effects can vastly turn generic and inconsistent. Research can only measure social media effect to an extent, but relating the result to personal attributes is key in most social studies.

3.1 Constant Connection

Social media directly affects productivity. Brooks (2015) argues that no matter how participants could demonstrate their multitasking skills, social media affected task performance and contributed to the decrease of the level of happiness. Brooks (2015) also uses the term “technostress” to refer to the stress caused by the use of technology throughout the day. The heavier the usage of social media, the more technostress the sample suffered.

Seeking social support on social media directly affected adolescent students’ mood in a negative way (Frison & Eggermont, 2015). This creates a cycle where users are feeling stressed, going to social media for relief and getting more stressed.

3.2 Cyberbullying and Cyber-Support

In extreme cases, bullying on social media has led to suicide. An example is the number of teen suicide cases associated with the social network ask.fm in 2013 after several bullying instances (Pappas, 2015). Not to assume that bullying is introduced by social media, but it has evolved into cyberbullying which has much more dangerous outcomes even though it is treated more lightly. Ask.com acquired the site later and announced the launch of new features to make the site safer. This shows that interacting online has serious outcomes and what could be dangerous results.

Rainie and Wellman (2012), however, suggest that social media can be so comforting to the extent of being an emotional “bandage” during difficult time. It helps people feel more connected and more reachable with less effort. A study by Dolev-Cohen and Barak (2013), which analyzed 2643 adolescents’ personalities and messaging habits found that stressed participants who expressed their emotional state through messaging received relief from that stress. The same setting and process didn’t affect participants who weren’t stressed to begin with.

As users’ probability to be affected can differ by age, it can also vary by gender. A Pew Center Research conducted by Hampton, Rainie, Lu, Shin and Purcell (2015) found that women who used Twitter often experienced less anxiety and stress. Constant Twitter use made them more aware of stressful situations. However, they decreased their anxiety with the help of Twitter.

3.3 FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Feeling anxious or worried about missing a Facebook post, or constantly checking Facebook predicts narcissistic, antisocial, and compulsive behavior which researchers referred to as “iDisorder” (Rosen et al., 2013).

Another type of FOMO, is the fear of missing out on opportunities for good content. Information overload on social media can lead to an increase in anxiety and stress levels after interacting with such vibrant environment. Young social media users choose to endure this stress instead of unfollowing or unfriending over-sharers (Rosen et al., 2013).

Lapides, Chokshi, Carpendale and Greenberg (2015) found that while their sample encountered a negative experience getting their Facebook feed overwhelmed by stories from the same people, they didn’t unfollow or unfriend them even though they contemplated it. The reason behind this is the fear of missing an important update or a potentially interesting story shared by this person in the future. Most of the sample were also aware of “liking” and commenting habits of their peers on the posts, and felt an obligation to return these favors on posts they are associated with whether by being posted on their walls or tagged in. The obligation of interacting out of respect to social code adds to the social strain online social media is supposed to take off the user’s shoulders. FOMO was found to be a cause of distraction during everyday activities and is thus connected to a lower level of well-being and a higher level of participation and anxiety (Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan & Gladwell, 2013).

3.4 Taking a Break

Taking some time off social media has become a popular detoxing method, or at least an attempt to regain control over social habits online.

Every year during the Christian Lent season, many users choose to give up on social media as a part of personal sacrifice, which in itself a sign of how important the Internet is. The results of one study (Schoenebeck, 2014) that followed three Lent season breaks on Twitter, analyzed tweets via Twitter’s API through three years found that 64 percent of users who announced their intentions to take a Twitter break succeeded in doing so. They kept off twitter for the target period and announced their comeback with a celebratory tweet. 13.3 percent of those who intended to keep off twitter tweeted once or twice during that period, usually to express an emotion or announce personal news. Schoenebeck also found that when users talked or posted about their break from social media, they used “real life” to describe what they thought they were missing on by being online all the time. This sample admitted that giving up social media for the duration of one week is a hard resolution to follow.

Social media has been exercising more control over users’ social habits. A study analyzed the behavior of users who checked their social accounts more than six times a day (Wang, Niiya, Mark, Reich & Warschauer, 2015) and found that continual checkers had no control over their social media use and that they were “addicted to the Internet”. The more participants checked their channels daily, the less positive mood they were in.

3.5 Social Effects Vs. Social Media Effects

Mirroring these concerns, Frison and Eggermont (2015) emphasize on the importance of distinguishing between social media interaction, reactions, and seeking support and doing these activities through other means of communication. Both in research and personal outlook, they point that previous studies didn’t take such distinctions between how users seek support from their family or friends in real life and on Facebook into consideration.

Lundy and Drouin (2016) found that communicating via instant messaging lowered the stress level for their sample of 165 undergraduate students. The sample was suffering from high social anxiety levels. For this sample, communicating via face to face and phone resulted in the same degree of stress relief.

In addition to that, sample members who had low anxiety levels actually felt more stressed interacting with their friends through social media in comparison with face to face and phone communication. Xiaoqian, Chen and Popiel (2015) argued that social media isn’t related to social support to begin with. Even if social media users reap positive and supportive responses from their friends, it isn’t similar to offline support.

Applying the same approach on anxiety, a study also investigated whether Facebook anxiety share similarities with real world social anxiety (McCord, Rodebaugh & Levinson, 2014). By overviewing these types of studies, a clearer picture of what type of anxiety the user might be experiencing due to excessive online networking.

A clear correlation between Facebook anxiety and social anxiety was found. Users with higher social anxiety experienced higher level of stress when interacting on Facebook.

4.       CONCLUSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH

Social media by itself doesn’t create anxiety that didn’t exist before. It can raise existing anxiety levels at times and help at others, depending on how, when and by whom it is used.

Because there is evidence supporting both sides of the argument, a relevant result is reached by incorporating personal attributes. This review concludes that social media as a platform is not necessarily a cause or a relief for anxiety issues. It mainly relates to personality differences in interacting individuals. The hypothesis that there is a link between social media and anxiety is true, but it isn’t a causation relationship. Anxious people don’t always use social media more, which is a limitation on determining social media effects on users with anxiety compared to those who don’t have social anxiety. The literature showed that social media is more framed as an amplifier of an existing problem for some users while providing immediate relief of social problems.

These results might help in employing certain channels of social media to target users with anxiety issues to help them, since it can nurture the feeling of being connected and part of a group. Missed opportunities of capitalizing on social media benefits as a safe medium for anxious people to interact could lead to future research on the effect would the increased use of social media could have on young users with self-esteem problems over a longer period of time.

Further research can be helpful in predicting personality problems by analyzing how individuals interact and share online.

Knowing the helpful aspects of social networking for worrying people can contribute in creating a safer environment online through websites and apps designed to help these users overcome anxiety. And more importantly encourage them to use interact online more.

5.       REFERENCES

Bardi, C. A., & Brady, M. F. (2010). Why shy people use instant messaging: Loneliness and other motives. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1722–1726. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.06.021

Bazarova, N. N., Choi, Y. H., Sosik, V. S., Cosley, D., & Whitlock, J. (2015). Social sharing of emotions on Facebook: Channel differences, satisfaction, and replies. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW ’15), 154-164. doi: 10.1145/2675133.2675297

Becker, M. W., Alzahabi, R., & Hopwood. C. J. (2013). Media multitasking is associated with symptoms of depression and social anxiety. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(2), 132-135. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0291.

Brooks, S. (2015). Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being? Computers in Human Behavior, 46, Pages 26–37. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.053

Caplan, S. E. (2007). Relations among loneliness, social anxiety, and problematic internet use. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(2), 234-242. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9963.

Chang, C. (2015). Self-construal and Facebook activities: Exploring differences in social interaction orientation. Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 91–101. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.06.049

Dolev-Cohen, M., & Barak, A. (2013). Adolescents’ use of instant messaging as a means of emotional relief. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 58–63. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.016

Forest, A. L., & Wood, J. V. (2012). When social networking is not working: Individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychological Science, 23(3), 295 –302. doi: 10.1177/0956797611429709

Frison, E., & Eggermont, S. (2015). The impact of daily stress on adolescents’ depressed mood: The role of social support seeking through Facebook, Computers in Human Behavior. 44, 315–325. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.070

Hampton, K., Rainie, L., Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2015). Social media and the cost of caring. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/

Koutamanis, M., Vossen, H. G. M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2015). Adolescents’ comments in social media: Why do adolescents receive negative feedback and who is most at risk? Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 486–494. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.016

Lapides, P., Chokshi, A., Carpendale, S., & Greenberg, S. (2015). News feed: What’s in it for me? Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15), 163-172. doi:10.1145/2702123.2702554

Lundy B. L., & Drouin, M. (2016). From social anxiety to interpersonal connectedness: Relationship building within face-to-face, phone and instant messaging mediums. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 271–277. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.08.004

Marder, B., Joinson, A., & Shankar, A. (2012). Every post you make, every pic you take, I’ll be watching you: behind social spheres on Facebook. Proceedings of the 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS ’12). 859-868 doi:10.1109/HICSS.2012.12

Marshall, T. C., Lefringhausen, K., & Ferenczi, N. (2015). The big five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates. Personality and Individual Differences, 85, 35–40. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.039

McCord, B., Rodebaugh, T. L., & Levinson, C. A. (2014). Facebook: Social uses and anxiety. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 23–27. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.020

Osatuyi, B. (2015). Is lurking an anxiety-masking strategy on social media sites? The effects of lurking and computer anxiety on explaining information privacy concern on social media platforms. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 324–332. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.02.062

Pappas, S. (2015, June 22). Cyberbullying on social media linked to teen depression. Livescience. Retrieved from: http://www.livescience.com/51294-cyberbullying-social-media-teen-depression.html

Przybylski, A. K., Murayama, K., DeHaan, C. R., & Gladwell, V. (2013). Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1841–1848. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014

Rainie, W., & Wellman, B. (2012). Networked: The new social operating system. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Rosen, L. D., Whaling, K., Rab, S., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Is Facebook creating “iDisorders”? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders and technology use, attitudes and anxiety. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 1243–1254. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.11.012

Schoenebeck, S. Y. (2014). Giving up Twitter for Lent: How and why we take breaks from social media. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, (CHI ’14). 773-782. doi:10.1145/2556288.2556983

Wang, Y., Niiya, M., Mark, G., Reich, S., & Warschauer, M. (2015). Coming of Age (Digitally): An Ecological View of Social Media Use among College Students. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, (CSCW ’15). 571-582. doi:10.1145/2675133.2675271

Xiaoqian Li, X., Chen, W., & Popiel, P. (2015). What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook? The implications of Facebook interaction for perceived, receiving, and giving social support. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 106–113. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.04.066a

Research Proposal: Is Extended Consumption of Social Media Linked to Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults?

Instant connections. That’s what new age social media promises us; we will always be connected to each other, to strangers, to our networks, and to our ideas. But with Integrais the incredible rise of the use of digital social networks that took place in the last few years, people have come to rely more on their portable devices for social interactions, and both users and researchers are asking: have we reached the feeling of being more connected, or have we become more isolated?

Is the focused attention on self-promotion related to the rise of anxiety among teenagers and young adults? Or is it the motivation this generation needed to keep up with fast-rising competition? This is what this research strives to answer.

The number of American adults who own a smartphone has doubled in the 4 years between 2011 and 2015 according to a Pew Research report. Smartphones have become essential in how we do most of our daily activities, including chatting and texting with our friends and family, and posting on social media.

By taking a look at usage patterns and behaviors of internet users between adolescence and adulthood (13-25 years old), a better understanding about the ties between the two issues will develop. Whether a causation or correlation occurs between rise of social anxiety and depression among teens and adults, and the digitalization of social connection.

The subject of interactive behavior on social media sites has been discussed heavily during the past decade due to many factors:

  1. Type of information: What is being shared and discussed on social media and how it affects participants.
  2. Privacy concerns: When we post online, we contribute into a global record that is not easy to delete, our actions online have consequences that are as fast as our ability to send something out to the world.
  3. Psychological aspects: How users feel while interacting with no one and everyone at the same time. On twitter for example, is the value of what you write calculated by how it makes you feel, or by the response it gets. Does social media make us happier by giving us a window to vent out and share, or limit us by confining our opinions in boxes of what’s popular? Through posting and reading what others post, have we created an ideal experience that can turn devastating if not “post-perfect”?

Researchers have even developed the term iDisorder to describe the stress-related disorders caused by overwhelming the brain with information from social media.

On the topic of social media and anxiety, there are studies supporting different notions. There are many aspects that causes social media users to worry and can cause alienation from the networks that are supposed to connect, few of them can be highlighted in the term FOMO (fear of missing out), the constant feeling of something amazing happening within or outside our circles without having a mean to instantly connect to it, because we live in a time when a lot of amazing things happen very fast, we need to constantly feel on top of things.

Another aspect of anxiety in the new age is the “am i good enough?” questions. Am I good enough to compete in this ever-growing community of great talents? Do I know the right people to help me get where I want? Am I taking the right steps to belong in the right circles for me? All these questions are going through minds of young people, these questions didn’t go through younger minds with this intensity and urgency decades ago, add to it the social pressure built within an overly growing network and you might be able to link anxiety to the stressful effects of this type of interactions.

This being the argument accusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other networks of spreading what became a voluntarily heavy responsibility, some researchers argue that social media is not to blame for anxiety, and that as much as it can spread negativity it can also spread happy thoughts and inspire its users to a better mental state.  

These and other angles of anxiety-related disorders and how they might be linked to social networking will be the focus of my research paper. By going in-depth into anxiety issues among social media users, the results reached will hopefully give a clearer perspective of how involved certain patterns of social media consumption is with these issues of anxiety.

Why Is That Art and Why Should I Care?

Studying art is not an easy task to define, mostly because most people think being an artist has more to do with talent than school and books. Being talented is important, but then again there are millions of talented people around the world, how can any of them set themselves apart by studying art?

When you exert a big amount of effort into knowing more about something, you simply accumulate an advantage over someone who doesn’t.

This applies on the arts as well. While you can’t read a book and suddenly become an artist, knowing the basics of the industry, the history, what other artists already tried, how they think, and how people react, all adds up to your knowledge on the subject and feeds this advantage that most certainly will show in the work.

daliThe book 1st Why Is That Art by weg Terry Barrett discusses of four main areas of art; realism, expressionism, formalism, and postmodern pluralism. As a student in the iMedia program, I’m interested in art as an application tool, and design is something wholesale jerseys I want to pursue further in the professional world. But why Showroom do I have to learn about postmodern pluralism in 2015?

The answer is in what this book offers of information that goes into the foundation of how I think of art and design. Learning the very old basics of a profession in the digital world is not an oxymoron, because we rely on the value of these teachings to innovate new things.

We have amazing technologies at our service today but we are missing an advantage older generations had; learning in a linear way, starting from the very basics and going up on the difficulty scale of developed skills. We start from an advanced level of application because it’s available and so accessible to us we don’t even think about it. We don’t think how a photograph is made, we don’t have to go into a darkroom and spend time developing a picture, we can take ten pictures in one second and they are just there for us to use.

Knowing the basics thus reconnects us with this missing link. Personally, reading about the philosophies of important figures in the art world inspires me to think differently and opens this new perspective of how I view their work. It’s a basic foundations every artist needs to be aware of to build on further skills. Acquiring knowledge about what interests me in art isn’t technically difficult, the web is full of resources of articles and books taking an in-depth look through history and application on many subjects such as realism. It might be more challenging to know what to search for, how to start finding information, and filtering what is related to a specific area out of the sea of text and pictures.

This can be done by starting with the very basic information; a definition, available examples of works, and further suggested readings.

Being aware of art as an industry, as a philosophy, even as a business, feeds into my interest in design. As available as technologies have become to create such designs, it also facilitates the learning process of such art.