The Connection Between Social Anxiety and Time Spent on Facebook
Out of the five concepts discussed, I found the amount of time spent on Facebook the most interesting one to research. The researchers use the amount of time spent on Facebook in order to determine the connection between Facebook use, Facebook envy, and depression. Nevertheless, Tandoc et al. do not discuss the reasons for the increased use of Facebook, stating that it is more important to discuss “what people did while using Facebook rather than the amount of time spent” (141). However, given the growing number of teenagers and young adults spending at least several hours a day on Facebook, it would be interesting to suggest and explore the reasons for such a trend. In particular, I find that the connection between social anxiety and the amount of time spent on Facebook is an interesting topic of research. I chose social anxiety as the concept that might have an effect on the amount of time spent on Facebook each day because of the increasing number of teenagers and young adults who identify themselves as having some form of social anxiety. My theory is that people who experience social anxiety will spend more time on Facebook than those who feel relaxed and comfortable in most social situations.
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Social anxiety, or social phobia, is a disorder that causes people to experience mild to severe difficulties with communication. It is associated with increased nervousness, fear of judgment or embarrassment, and the overall unease when being around friends, colleagues, classmates, family members, or even strangers in the street. People who suffer from mild social anxiety will feel more relaxed and comfortable around close friends; however, they may be afraid of public speaking and being introduced to new people. People with a moderate or severe degree of social anxiety usually experience compulsive thoughts regarding what other people might think of their looks, manners, appearance, voice, personality, and other features. Most people with social anxiety experience fear of talking to people in the street, for instance, when asking for directions.
Other examples of social anxiety in everyday life include refusing to go to social events and gatherings, struggling with speech problems, such as stuttering, avoiding familiar people in case of unexpected encounter in the street or at an event, being unable to ask a stranger for help in a difficult situation, and so on. People with social anxiety are usually easy to spot: normally, they are very reserved and shy; they are not an integral part of their organization’s social life and will normally avoid going to social events, have very few friends and do not show any interest in the conversations of other people. Clearly, the majority of these difficulties arise during face-to-face or phone communication. Many people with social anxiety do not experience any troubles with using social networks, which might be due to several reasons. First, social networks such as Facebook, allow people to use written communication instead of talking to someone face-to-face.
Written communication is easier for many people; for example, in written communication, you can edit your posts or messages for as long as you want before you are sure that they will not be misunderstood or taken in a wrong way by other people, which promotes the feeling of security and comforts the people who suffer from social anxiety. Secondly, social networks may also act as a protective tool, as people do not see or hear each other. Finally, social networks allow people to join various communities and groups based on their interests, which might help people with social anxiety to decrease the feeling of loneliness and to make up for the lack of real-life communication. All things considered, using social networks instead of face-to-face communication is an attractive option for people who have social anxiety and experience difficulties in social situations, which is why the proposed theory should prove to be true.
In order to test the theory, a qualitative study will have to be conducted. To narrow down the topic of research, it would be best to focus on teenagers and college students who have active social media profiles. Each participant will receive a survey consisting of closed questions, such as:
- • What is the average time you spend on Facebook each day?
- • Do you feel uncomfortable asking people on the street for directions?
- • Do you consider yourself a socially active person?
- • Have you ever experienced the fear of what other people might think of you?
The questions should address all the variables considered in the research, including the amount of time spent on Facebook, the presence of symptoms of social anxiety, and the effect of Facebook use in promoting the feeling of security and inclusion. Overall, I believe that this research could help to discover the reasons for the increasing amount of time that young adults and teenagers spend online, while at the same time offering a deeper insight into the factors that reduce social anxiety symptoms, thus helping to develop effective treatment programs.