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The study of the issue of Internet addiction occupies a rather significant place in many psychologists and sociologists’ works in recent years. This issue has become of great importance, and the search for effective ways to eliminate this social problem is topical as people of all ages can face such an addiction. This qualitative research with survey design to determine the number of people deeply involved in the web is aimed at searching for actual methods of combating the described problem. It is performed in the form of the literature review and a detailed description of the methodology that can be used for possible intervention. The main question is whether there is a positive correlation between the problem of Internet addiction and other factors (age, gender, the level of education, etc.). The rationale is based on ten peer-reviewed articles with unique research. The practical importance of the paper lies in the possibility of applying the results in the process of eliminating the problem of Internet addiction.
The excessive use of the Internet and the infatuation with social networks has led to the fact that a special term used in psychology is applied. It is about such a concept as Internet addiction, the essence of which lies in an irresistible desire to immerse oneself in the world of virtual communication and other social media as soon as possible. Because this problem is a common practice on the whole territory of the Earth where there is the Internet, a rather big need arises to find an effective and affordable means of combating this type of addiction. It is possible to review some scientific studies of other authors to realize the scale of the problem. Also, it is essential to develop separate research based on the information obtained in the process of reviewing the sources to find useful data. A carefully thoughtful and competent study with survey design to determine the percentage of addicted people will certainly help to at least find an effective way to reduce addiction to social networks and other media.
As a rationale, scientific peer-reviewed articles of respected authors can be used as a means of analyzing the current problem of Internet addiction and finding the right information and possible ways of intervention. For this study, ten papers were taken as the basis for the review. All the articles are relevant to the problem of Internet addiction and the consequences of excessive spending time on social networks.
One of the sources is the article by Andreassen et al. (2016). Its authors consider the potential relationship between the Internet or gambling addiction and various mental disorders. The researchers pay considerable attention to the symptoms of this problem, mentioning insomnia, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc. (Andreassen et al., 2016). A similar study was conducted by Andreassen, Pallesen, and Griffiths (2017). In this work, the authors considered several other issues, in particular, a possible positive correlation between Internet addiction and self-esteem. Based on the obtained results, the authors concluded that young girls who do not have a boyfriend were most affected by this problem, and excessive time spent on social networks negatively affected their self-esteem (Andreassen et al., 2017). Therefore, a positive correlation was proved.
Another study by Van Deursen, Bolle, Hegner, and Kommers (2015) is devoted to the study of smartphones’ influence concerning the variety of factors, including age, sex, occupation, etc. The authors concluded that emotional intelligence did not have anything in common with too frequent use of gadgets and electronic devices, and age hurt addictive smartphone behavior (Van Deursen et al., 2015). This study partially overlapped with that of Anderson, Steen, and Stavropoulos (2017) as its authors considered the behavior of adults and adolescents from the perspective of Internet users. It was proved that in adolescence, young people tended to spend more time on social networks, and the addiction developed rather quickly (Anderson et al., 2017). This fact confirmed the relationship between age and the existing problem.
The study by Wegmann, Stodt, and Brand (2015) is aimed at finding the relationship between such concepts as Internet literacy and social networks addiction. The authors note that adolescents tend to spend more time on the web than adults; therefore, they are more advanced users and more often need to have constant access to their favorite services (Wegmann et al., 2015). Moreover, such psychopathological symptoms as depression and social anxiety were noted, which was caused by too strong expectations of the opportunities offered by social networks. For instance, Bányai et al. (2017) claim that among 5,961 adolescents who took part in a special survey 4.5 % “belonged to the at-risk group, and reported low self-esteem, high level of depression symptoms, and elevated social media use” (p. 1). It means that both of these studies have one general conclusion: too frequent use of social networks can cause various psychoemotional disorders, and adolescents form one of the most vulnerable categories of the population.
A quantitative study conducted by Müller et al. (2016) also proves that Internet addiction is the most common phenomenon among young people. According to the results of the analysis carried out by the authors, 4.1% of boys and 3.6% of girls have a confirmed increased attachment to the Internet and social networks (Müller et al., 2016, p. 172). As Wang, Lee, and Hua (2015) remark, “deficient self-regulation strengthens social media dependence” (p. 40). In other words, a low level of self-esteem and the lack of experience that are typical for many adolescents are factors that lead to the occurrence of the problem. Consequently, both of these studies have approximately similar conclusions regarding the nature of Internet addiction.
Cognitive functions suffer from too long and frequent time spent on the Internet. According to Xanidis and Brignell (2016), one of the frequent problems that accompany Internet addiction is the lack of sleep. Moreover, the authors note that people inclined to such an addiction experience a feeling similar to another type of dependence, for example, narcotics or alcohol (Xanidis & Brignell, 2016). Certainly, the issue under consideration is rather a psychological problem rather than a physical one. Nevertheless, certain similarities like irritability or a propensity for depression are also typical for those who cannot stop the need to have constant access to the Internet. Similar ideas are proposed by Guedes et al. (2016) as the authors also note that for those people who have an irresistible desire to spend in the virtual space as much time as possible the wish to online predominate over the desire for sleep and other natural needs. Based on these studies, it can be concluded that the form of Internet addiction is not so severe as some others; however; it is also a rather acute social problem, especially in the context of expanding web opportunities. Thus, all these factors confirm the need to find an efficient and available method to try to solve the issue of Internet addiction.
The proposed study will be quantitative to make an efficient intervention and analyze the current situation, a particular group of people should be studied, and the main idea is to determine the percentage. Survey design will be used for this qualitative study; participants will be asked about the time they spend on the Internet, as well as their perceptions of social networks. Based on these data, a relatively accurate picture will be made of how many people in the study group have problems with excessive Internet craze. It will help to identify a certain relationship, for example, between age or social status. The subject of the study will be people of different ages, including both adolescents and adults since the information from different sources will be very useful.
Data will be obtained through testing the target group that will answer questions. The research can be performed both online and in-person, which increases the chances of receiving more accurate answers. Those participants will be invited who have completed a preliminary online survey and expressed a desire to be present as the objects of the research. The aim of the study will be explained to them. It is also necessary to receive informed consent for people to confirm that their answers will be analyzed and used as statistics. The study process will not take much time; all respondents can be interviewed within a week, and afterward, their answers will be analyzed.
First, it is essential to approve IRB and receive permission to conduct the study. Next, it is necessary to involve a specific group of people who want to actively work and realize the importance of finding the solution for the problem under consideration. Then, it is significant to find an appropriate place where the research process itself will take place. People will be invited to the chosen place where they will be talked to, and the data of these conversations will be analyzed.
Descriptive statistics will be analyzed using SPSS as a statistical software package. It is planned to make several calculations regarding the correlation between the problem and age, gender, social status. As a result, it is assumed that the obtained information will be very useful as a rationale for the need to provide psychological help to those people who most acutely experience the problem of Internet addiction. Also, it is planned to calculate the percentage of those who use the Internet too frequently and cannot stop spending too much time on social networks. Perhaps, social services or other government agencies will be interested in this issue in more detail, and real changes will be proposed, for example, the organization of adolescents’ leisure time or greater attention to the availability of social networks.
Thus, active and competent intervention in the problem can help the society to solve the issue of Internet addiction and understand what measures can be taken to at least partially correct the current situation. As a rationale for the study, scientific articles were used as a way to obtain additional information on the effectiveness of the conducted studies and to find possible alternatives. The research methodology involves carrying out surveys to conclude percentage. If a positive correlation between the concepts of addiction and social networks is found, it will be necessary to look for additional ways to help the most vulnerable population groups.
Anderson, E. L., Steen, E., & Stavropoulos, V. (2017). Internet use and problematic internet use: A systematic review of longitudinal research trends in adolescence and emergent adulthood. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 22(4), 430-454.
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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), 252-262.
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.
Bányai, F., Zsila, Á., Király, O., Maraz, A., Elekes, Z., Griffiths, M. D.,… Demetrovics, Z. (2017). Problematic social media use: Results from a large-scale nationally representative adolescent sample. PloS One, 12(1), 1-13.
Guedes, E., Sancassiani, F., Carta, M. G., Campos, C., Machado, S., King, A. L. S., & Nardi, A. E. (2016). Internet addiction and excessive social networks use: What about Facebook? Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, 12, 43-48.
Müller, K. W., Dreier, M., Beutel, M. E., Duven, E., Giralt, S., & Wölfling, K. (2016). A hidden type of internet addiction? Intense and addictive use of social networking sites in adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 172-177.
Van Deursen, A. J., Bolle, C. L., Hegner, S. M., & Kommers, P. A. (2015). Modeling habitual and addictive smartphone behavior: The role of smartphone usage types, emotional intelligence, social stress, self-regulation, age, and gender. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 411-420.
Wang, C., Lee, M. K., & Hua, Z. (2015). A theory of social media dependence: Evidence from microblog users. Decision Support Systems, 69, 40-49.
Wegmann, E., Stodt, B., & Brand, M. (2015). Addictive use of social networking sites can be explained by the interaction of Internet use expectancies, Internet literacy, and psychopathological symptoms. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(3), 155-162.
Xanidis, N., & Brignell, C. M. (2016). The association between the use of social network sites, sleep quality and cognitive function during the day. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 121-126.