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For a small minority of individuals, their use of social networking sites may become the single most important activity that they engage in, leading to a preoccupation with SNS use salience. The activities on these sites are then being used in order to induce mood alterations, pleasurable feelings or a numbing effect mood modification. Increased amounts of time and energy are required to be put into engaging with SNS activities in order to achieve the same feelings and state of mind that occurred in the initial phases of usage tolerance.
When SNS use is discontinued, addicted individuals will experience negative psychological and sometimes physiological symptoms withdrawaloften leading to a reinstatement of the problematic behavior relapse.
Problems arise as a consequence of the engagement in the problematic behavior, leading to intrapsychic conflicts within the individual often including a subjective loss of control and interpersonal conflicts i.
On the one hand, current behavioral addiction research tends to be correlational and confirmatory in nature and is often based on population studies rather than clinical samples in which psychological impairments are observed [ 47 ].
Additional methodological problems are outlined below Section 2.
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On the other hand, in the present paper, the present authors do not discriminate between the label addiction, compulsion, problematic SNS use, or other similar labels used because these terms are being used interchangeably by authors in the field.
The question then arises as what it is that individuals become addicted to. Is it the technology or is it more what the technology allows them to do?
It has been argued previously [ 3450 ] that the technology is but a medium or a tool that allows individuals to engage in particular behaviors, such as social networking and gaming, rather than being addictive per se.
This view is supported by media scholars: There are a numbers of models which offer explanations as to the development of SNS addiction [ 51 ]. According to the cognitive-behavioral model, excessive social networking is the consequence of maladaptive cognitions and is exacerbated through a number of external issues, resulting in addictive use.
The social skill model suggests individuals use SNSs excessively as a consequence of low self-presentation skills and preference for online social interaction over face-to-face communication, resulting in addictive SNS use [ 51 ].
With respect to the socio-cognitive model, excessive social networking develops as a consequence of positive outcome expectations, Internet self-efficacy, and limited Internet self-regulation, leading to addictive SNS use [ 51 ]. It has furthermore been suggested that SNS use may become problematic when individuals use it in order to cope with everyday problems and stressors, including loneliness and depression [ 52 ]. Moreover, it has been contended that excessive SNS users find it difficult to communicate face-to-face, and social media use offers a variety of immediate rewards, such as self-efficacy and satisfaction, resulting in continued and increased use, with the consequence of exacerbating problems, including neglecting offline relationships, and problems in professional contexts.
The resultant depressed moods are then dealt with by continued engagement in SNSs, leading to a vicious cycle of addiction [ 53 ]. Cross-cultural research including 10, adolescents from six European countries Greece, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, and Iceland furthermore showed that using SNS for two or more hours a day was related to internalizing problems and decreased academic performance and activity [ 54 ]. In addition, a study using a sample of secondary school students in China indicated neuroticism and extraversion predicted SNS addiction, clearly differentiating individuals who experience problems as a consequence of their excessive SNS use from those individuals who used games or the Internet in general excessively [ 55 ], further contributing to the contention that SNS addiction appears to be a behavioral problem separate from the more commonly researched gaming addiction.
However, recent research suggests individuals may develop addiction-related problems as a consequence of using other SNSs, such as Instagram [ 66 ]. It has been claimed that users may experience gratification through sharing photos on Instagram, similar to the gratification they experience when using Facebook, suggesting that the motivation to share photos can be explained by uses and gratifications theory [ 6667 ].
This may also be the reason for why individuals have been found to be less likely to experience addiction-related symptoms when using Twitter in contrast to Instagram [ 66 ]. In addition to the gratification received through photo sharing, these websites also allow to explore new identities [ 68 ], which may be considered to contribute to gratification, as supported by previous research [ 69 ].
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Research has also suggested that Instagram use in particular appears to be potentially addictive in young UK adults [ 66 ], offering further support for the contention that Facebook addiction is only one example of SNS addiction. Other than the presence and possible addictive qualities of SNSs other than Facebook, it has been contended that the respective activities which take place on these websites need to be considered when studying addiction [ 70 ].
For instance, Facebook users can play games such as Farmville [ 36 ], gamble online [ 71 ], watch videos, share photos, update their profiles, and message their friends [ 3 ]. Following this justified criticism, researchers who had previously studied Facebook addiction specifically [ 58 ] have now turned to studying SNS addiction more generally instead [ 73 ], demonstrating the changing definitional parameters of social networking in this evolving field of research.
Higher levels of FOMO have been associated with greater engagement with Facebook, lower general mood, lower wellbeing, and lower life satisfaction, mixed feelings when using social media, as well as inappropriate and dangerous SNS use i. In addition to this, research [ 77 ] suggests that FOMO predicts problematic SNS use and is associated with social media addiction [ 78 ], as measured with a scale adapted from the Internet Addiction Test [ 79 ].
It has been debated whether FOMO is a specific construct, or simply a component of relational insecurity, as observed for example with the attachment dimension of preoccupation with relationships in research into problematic Internet use [ 80 ]. In addition, this study also found that the relationship between psychopathology as operationalized by anxiety and depression symptoms and assessed via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and negative consequences of SNS use were mediated by FOMO, emphasizing the importance of FOMO in the self-perceived consequences of high SNS engagement.
Taken together, these findings suggest FOMO may be a significant predictor or possible component of potential SNS addiction, a contention that requires further consideration in future research. Further work is needed into the origins of FOMO both theoretically and empiricallyas well as research into why do some SNS users are prone to FOMO and develop signs of addictions compared to those who do not.
Smartphone Addiction May Be Part of SNS Addiction Over the last decade, research assessing problematic and possibly addictive mobile phone use including smartphones has proliferated [ 81 ], suggesting some individuals may develop addiction-related problems as a consequence of their mobile phone use.
Recent research has suggested problematic mobile phone use is a multi-faceted condition, with dependent use being one of four possible pathways, in addition to dangerous, prohibited, and financially problematic use [ 82 ]. According to the pathway model, an addictive pattern of mobile phone use is characterized by the use of specific applications, including calls, instant messaging, and the use of social networks.
This suggests that rather than being an addictive medium per se, mobile technologies including smartphones and tablets are media that enable the engagement in potentially addictive activities, including SNS use.
Put another way, it could be argued that mobile phone addicts are no more addicted to their phones than alcoholics are addicted to bottles. Similarly, it has been argued previously that individuals do not become addicted to the Internet per se, but to the activities they engage in on the Internet, such as gaming [ 50 ] or SNS use [ 3 ]. With the advent and ubiquity of mobile technologies, this supposition is more pertinent than ever.
Therefore, it can be suggested that smartphone addiction may be part of SNS addiction. Previous research [ 73 ] supported this supposition by specifically indicating that social networking is often engaged in via phones, which may contribute to its addictive potential. Accordingly, it is necessary to move towards nosological precision, for the benefit of both individuals seeking help in professional settings, as well as research that will aid developing effective treatment approaches for those in need.
Researchers have called for nomophobia to be included in the DSM-5, and the following criteria have been outlined to contribute to this problem constellation: Nomophobia is inherently related to a fear of not being able to engage in social connections, and a preference for online social interaction which is the key usage motivation for SNSs [ 3 ]and has been linked to problematic Internet use and negative consequences of technology use [ 86 ], further pointing to a strong association between nomophobia and SNS addiction symptoms.
Using mobile phones is understood as leading to alterations in everyday life habits and perceptions of reality, which can be associated with negative outcomes, such as impaired social interactions, social isolation, as well as both somatic and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and stress [ 8587 ].
Accordingly, nomophobia can lead to using the mobile phone in an impulsive way [ 85 ], and may thus be a contributing factor to SNS addiction as it can facilitate and enhance the repeated use of social networking sites, forming habits that may increase the general vulnerability for the experience of addiction-related symptoms as a consequence of problematic SNS use.
There Are Sociodemographic Differences in SNS Addiction Research suggests there are sociodemographic differences among those addicted to social networking. In terms of gender, psychotherapists treating technology-use related addictions suggest SNS addiction may be more common in female rather than male patients, and describe this difference based on usage motivations: This means the girls want direct interaction.
They want to feel understood. They want to be able to express themselves. First, in the age group of 14—16 years, girls appear to show a higher prevalence of addictions to the Internet and SNSs, as found in a representative German sample [ 88 ], and second, teenage girls may be underrepresented in clinical samples.
Social Networking Sites and Addiction: Ten Lessons Learned
Moreover, another study on a representative sample demonstrated that the distribution of addiction criteria varies between genders and that extraversion is a personality trait differentiating between intensive and addictive use [ 89 ]. Cross-sectional research is less conclusive as regards the contribution of gender as a risk factor for SNS addiction. A higher prevalence of Facebook addiction was found in a sample of females in Norway using the Facebook Addiction Scale [ 58 ]. In other studies, no relationship between gender and addiction was found.
In a study of university students in Turkey, Facebook addiction was assessed using the Facebook Addiction Scale, but did not find a predictive relationship between gender and Facebook addiction [ 62 ]. Furthermore, the relationships between gender and SNS addiction may be further complicated by other variables. For instance, recent research by Oberst et al.
The researchers explained this difference by suggesting that anxiety and depression experience in girls may result in higher SNS usage, implicating cyclical relationships in that psychopathological symptom experience may exacerbate negative consequences due to SNS use, which may then negatively impact upon perceived anxiety and depression symptoms.
In terms of age, studies indicate that younger individuals may be more likely to develop problems as a consequence of their excessive engagement with online social networking sites [ 92 ].
Moreover, research suggests perceptions as to the extent of possible addiction appear to differ across generations. This suggests that younger generations significantly differ from older generations in how they use technology, what place it has in their lives, and how problematic they may experience their behaviors to be.
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It also suggests that external accounts such as those from parents in the case of children and adolescents may be useful for clinicians and researchers in assessing the extent of a possible problem as adolescents may not be aware of the potential negative consequences that may arise as a result of their excessive online communication use. Taken together, although there appear differences in SNS addiction with regards to sociodemographic characteristics of the samples studied, such as gender, future research is required in order to clearly indicate where these differences lie specifically, given that much of current research appears somewhat inconclusive.
There Are Methodological Problems with Research to Date Given that the research field is relatively young, studies investigating social networking site addiction unsurprisingly suffer from a number of methodological problems. Currently, there are few estimations of the prevalence of social networking addiction with most studies comprising small and unrepresentative samples [ 3 ].
As far as the authors are aware, only one study in Hungary has used a nationally representative sample. However, most studies investigating social networking addiction use various assessment tools, different diagnostic criteria as well as varying cut-off points, making generalizations and study cross-comparisons difficult [ 53 ].
Studies have made use of several different psychometric scales and six of these are briefly described below. The Addictive Tendencies Scale ATS [ 94 ] is based on addiction theory and uses three items, salience, loss of control, and withdrawal, whilst viewing SNS addiction as dimensional construct. The E-Communication Addiction Scale [ 72 ] includes 22 questions with four subscales scored on a five-point Likert scale—addressing issues such as lack of self-control cognitivee-communication use in extraordinary places, worries, and control difficulty behavioral —and it has been found to have a high internal consistency, measuring e-communication addiction across different severity levels, ranging from very low to very high.
The Facebook Dependence Questionnaire FDQ [ 96 ] uses eight items based on the Internet Addiction Scale [ 97 ], with the endorsement of five out of eight criteria signifying addiction to using Facebook. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but those assessment tools highlighted here simply demonstrate that the current social networking addiction scales are based on different theoretical frameworks and use various cut-offs, and this precludes researchers from making cross-study comparisons, and severely limits the reliability of current SNS epidemiological addiction research.
Taken together, the use of different conceptualizations, assessment instruments, and cut-off points decreases the reliability of prevalence estimates because it hampers comparisons across studies, and it also questions the construct validity of SNS addiction.
Accordingly, researchers are advised to develop appropriate criteria that are clinically sensitive to identify individuals who present with SNS addiction specifically, whilst clinicians will benefit from a reliable and valid diagnosis in terms of treatment development and delivery.
Discussion In this paper, lessons learned from the recent empirical literature on social networking and addiction have been presented, following on from earlier work [ 3 ] when research investigating SNS addiction was in its infancy. The research presented suggests SNSs have become a way of being, with millions of people around the world regularly accessing SNSs using a variety of devices, including technologies on the go i.
The activity of social networking itself appears to be specifically eclectic and constantly changing, ranging from using traditional sites such as Facebook to more socially-based online gaming platforms and dating platforms, all allowing users to connect based on shared interests.
Research has shown that there is a fine line between frequent non-problematic habitual use and problematic and possibly addictive use of SNSs, suggesting that users who experience symptoms and consequences traditionally associated with substance-related addictions i. Research has also indicated that a fear of missing out FOMO may contribute to SNS addiction, because individuals who worry about being unable to connect to their networks may develop impulsive checking habits that over time may develop into an addiction.
Given that engaging in social networking is a key activity engaged in using mobile technologies, FOMO, nomophobia, and mobile phone addiction appear to be associated with SNS addiction, with possible implications for assessment and future research. In addition to this, the lessons learned from current research suggest there are sociodemographic differences in SNS addiction.
The lack of consistent findings regarding a relationship with gender may be due to different sampling techniques and various assessment instruments used, as well as the presence of extraneous variables that may contribute to the relationships found.
All of these factors highlight possible methodological problems of current SNS addiction research e. In addition to this, research suggests younger generations may be more at risk for developing addictive symptoms as a consequence of their SNS use, whilst perceptions of SNS addiction appear to differ across generations.
Younger individuals tend to view their SNS use as less problematic than their parents might, further contributing to the contention that SNS use has become a way of being and is contextual, which must be separated from the experience of actual psychopathological symptoms. The ultimate aim of research must be not to overpathologize everyday behaviors, but to carry out better quality research as this will help facilitate treatment efforts in order to provide support for those who may need it.
Based on the 10 lessons learned from recent SNS addiction research, the following recommendations are provided. Second, it is recommended that social networking site use is measured across different technologies with which it can be accessed, including mobile and smartphones. It is of fundamental importance to study what kinds of activities are being engaged in online social networking, gaming, etc. Third, risk factors associated with problematic social networking need to be assessed longitudinally to provide a clearer indication of developmental etiology, and to allow for the design of targeted prevention approaches.
Fourth, clinical samples need to be included in research in order to ensure the sensitivity and specificity of the screening instruments developed.
Fifth, in terms of treatment, unlike treating substance-related addictions, the main treatment goal should be control rather than abstinence. Arguably, abstinence cannot realistically be achieved in the context of SNS addiction because the Internet and social networking have become integral elements of our lives [ 3833 ].
Rather than discontinuing social networking completely, therapy should focus on establishing controlled SNS use and media awareness [ 53 ]. Conclusions This paper has outlined ten lessons learned from recent empirical literature on online social networking and addiction. Based on the presented evidence, the way forward in the emerging research field of social networking addiction requires the establishment of consensual nosological precision, so that both researchers and clinical practitioners can work together and establish productive communication between the involved parties that enable reliable and valid assessments of SNS addiction and associated behaviors e.
Acknowledgments This work did not receive any funding. Author Contributions The first author wrote the first complete draft of the paper based on an idea by the second author. The authors then worked collaboratively and iteratively on subsequent drafts of the paper. Conflicts of Interest The authors declare no conflict of interest. Definition, history, and scholarship. Comprehensive sexual health interventions in US high schools show promising results but they have not been developed for use in UK FE settings.
The evidence is mixed as to whether certain socio-demographic characteristics and dating and relationship behaviours are associated with more experience of DRV. This article provides the first comprehensive estimate of the distribution of dating and relationship violence and of risk and variation of DRV according to socio-demographic and behavioural factors with a large sample of FE students in England and Wales.
Establishing the association between socio-demographic, contextual and behavioural characteristics with DRV will help to inform whether universal or targeted interventions are appropriate. What is the association between DRV victimization and socio-demographic characteristics, sexual identity, and dating and relationship behaviours for 16—19 year olds in FE settings?
Settings were purposively recruited to reflect different institutional contexts within the sector: Multiple modes of recruitment were used to invite all students aged 16—19 to participate. Information about the study and a weblink to the electronic e -questionnaire were emailed to all students using their institutional email where possible. Students also completed questionnaires during scheduled lesson time using electronic tablets.
Trained fieldworkers attended each data collection session. Participants were aged 16 or over and, based on college guidance, deemed as having full capacity to provide informed consent. Students had the opportunity to withdraw from the data collection session at any time, and were given contact details for organizations providing relevant information and support following completion of the questionnaire.
Participants Data were collected from students aged 16— Of those participating, These were used in all subsequent analyses. The sample consisted of mostly White British Approximately two-thirds of the sample reported studying on a non-academic educational pathway. Table 1 Sample characteristics and prevalence of dating and relationship violence.