Social Media Addiction


The Internet is changing the way we live but not always in a better way. The overuse or abuse of Internet can have negative influences on our lives and lead to maladaptive behaviors (Is? lar, 2011). This is more profound in the adolescent age group of people growing up with the internet (Fisoun, 2012). Students spend a lot of time on social media and the internet every day, especially since affordable smart phones have become available. While using media technology in moderation may not be a problem, excessive use can cause damage. Students who use internet six hours and more a day have [shown] psychiatric symptoms such as obsessive compulsive, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety (Is? klar, 2011).

Not only has it been shown that addiction creates these problems, but according to Jang (2008) they used the internet when they were stressed, sad or depressed to cope. These are just a few examples of and therefore the purpose of this paper is to explore potential relationships between high social media and internet use and psychological issues that could develop.

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What is Internet addiction defined as and what are characteristics of it?

Internet Addiction or excessive internet use is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges, or behaviors regarding computer use and Internet access that lead to impairment or distress (Weinstein, 2010). Basically this means that when your use of the internet becomes so extreme that it impedes you from completing everyday tasks, such as school work or eating, then you may in fact be an addict. Internet addiction has only been formally recognized as a condition in the UK as they think it can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.

Now, besides that, internet addiction is a relatively new, unrecognized disorder. This excessive internet use affects the fibers of the front part of your brain, which can impact a person’s emotions, self-control and decision-making abilities (Cheung, 2011). If a person cannot control the amount of time spent online, that can cause relationship, occupational and social problems. The increasing reports on the psychologically addictive characteristics of Internet use have led to a growing concern amongst educators and psychologists about the impact of the Internet on children’s well-being (Is? lar, 2011).

Among all the age-groups, adolescents (specifically college-aged students) are at the highest risk to become addicted to the internet. This segment of society has a strong drive to develop an identity and to develop meaningful relationships (Lin, 2011). They may come to rely on the internet to cope with depression or stress. Consequently, the more time that they spend on the internet makes the addiction worse and does not treat the depression/stress at all. It becomes a viscous cycle.

A study in Taiwan also found that there was greater substance use, low connectedness to school and high family conflict were associated with adolescent internet addiction. Within this segment of college-aged students, it was shown that this addiction is more likely to occur to those with insecure attachment. During this stage in their life, the development of freedom from their family and reliance of peers and close friends for emotional support are major challenges. Compared to securely attached students, insecurely attached students have more negative interactions with peers and more negative friendships all together (Lin, 2011).

The internet lacks visual, aural and emotional feedback, and this provides psychological distance from persons with who these insecurely attached students interact (Weinstein, 2011). Also, these people may be using the internet as a form of a low-risk social approach and an opportunity to rehearse social behavior and communication skills (Weinstein, 2010). However, relying on this approach has been shown to lead to social anxiety and discontent with peer interactions. Some adverse consequences could be arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation and even fatigue.

Whatever the reason is for people to become addicted, it is likely to increase in the future given exponential growth of internet use. The more that people use the internet, the more they will have problems suppressing their online behavior in real life.

What are the effects that internet addiction has on college-aged students?

Through the research I have found that there are many different effects that internet addiction has on these college-aged students. Let’s start with one of the more obvious, insomnia. It is the inability to get enough, quality sleep and without treatment, sleep deprivation can be a health hazard.

It has been shown that insomnia, snoring, apnea, teeth grinding and nightmares are higher in internet addicts than in non-addicts (Weinstein, 2011). The reason for this is because the increased time spent on the internet or on social media disrupts your sleep-wake schedule significantly (Cheung, 2011). The amount of mobile phone and computer usage is also associated with waking-time tiredness and unhealthy sleep habits. A South Korean study showed a 37. 7 percent prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness due to addiction. As for possible addicts and non-addicts, it was significantly lower at 13. 9% and 7. 4% respectively (Weinstein, 2010).

Some other symptoms that addicts showed were longer sleep latency, lower sleep efficiency, poorer sleep quality, more sleep disturbances, daytime dysfunction, were more likely to use sleep medication, and be more depressed. That brings us to the next point, depression. Internet Addiction has many different psychological effects. There are deficits in decision making functions, low self-esteem, potential for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD, social phobia, hostility, loss of sense of time, neglect for basic drives, withdrawal, anger, tension, low tolerance (always needing more), frustration, anxiety and irritability.

The obsessive-compulsive symptom was found to be an independent factor that influenced the addiction (Jang, 2008). However, depressive symptoms seemed to have the biggest influence on internet addiction. As previously stated, these college-aged students may turn to the internet to cope with their depression, which is not a suitable way of treating it. When they got stressed out by work or were just depressed, internet addicts showed a high tendency to access the internet in order to escape from reality (Fisoun, 2012). This is what is known as high positive outcome expectancy.

This means that they are expecting that surfing the internet or social media pages will help them forget their problems. Those who are addicted to the internet, exhibit this quite often. On the other hand, they may get a feeling of depression when they are going through withdrawal from internet use. When they can’t check their pages or social networks, they get feelings of anger or tension which can lead to depression. Slowly but surely, excessive internet users and addicts find themselves becoming dependent on the internet. Like with any addict, they rarely will admit that they have a problem.

With the internet, adolescents find that this compulsion to always be on or check their stuff comes from the rush or excitement they get when people “like” their posts. It gives them a sense of acceptance, which is what people of this segment are looking for. It makes them think that people find that what you have to say is interesting. In addition, with communities such as Facebook or Twitter, adolescents find that with little effort they can make new friends and become popular. Consequently, they quickly turn to online companions to hide from the difficulties of real-life contact (Lin, 2011). They are more likely to seek emotional support from these online communities, which can eventually lead to addiction.


When approaching this research paper I knew that I would need to find journal articles in order to find credible information. I went to the Library’s website and went under research articles. It leads me to a list of potential sites that have articles. After looking at a few of them I determined that EBSCOhost was the one that I would use as the articles seemed better than any of the other sites were easy to cite.

When I went into the site it told me to enter key words so at first I put in “internet addiction” and “social media. ” When putting this in, it came up with a lot of articles that either dealt with social media or internet addiction. There weren’t really very many with both topics. So, I got rid of social media since internet addiction was the basis of this paper and I figure that the same findings would be found if someone is addicted to social media since it is online. With just internet addiction in the search criteria, I found many good articles that dealt with the many psychological issues that are present.

All of the articles seemed to do the same thing in regards to the studies they conducted. They took adolescents or college-aged students and had them do surveys about the amount of time they spend on the internet. Also, they asked questions that would tell them if different things such as what their positive outcome expectancy was or if they experienced other psychological issues because of addiction.


This research paper was to show that internet and social media addiction is linked to certain psychological characteristics.The study results from the articles were all pretty much been the same. All the demographic, psychological, and sociological characteristics were significantly different in the addicted and non-addicted students. Also, there were certain characteristics that were found to increase the risk of becoming addicted. These included: being male, having high internet usage time, high positive outcome expectancy, low refusal self-efficiency, depressive symptoms, insecure attachment and dissatisfaction with academic performance.

Since the type of study they conducted is cross-sectional, no relationship can be determined between internet usage time and internet addiction. Further studies could be done to show whether that time is an important factor for determining internet addiction. From what I have seen, there is no reason to believe that it isn’t an important factor. Depressive symptoms were found to have the greatest influence on internet addiction among other psychological categories. This goes back to them using the internet as a coping mechanism for their depression.

While this doesn’t work for their depression, it only helps them progress toward addiction. The cognitive factors, such as positive outcome expectancy, were shown to be crucial to understanding and preventing internet addiction. These students may also be insecurely attached, which has been shown to make them more likely to become addicted. Since they have more negative interactions with peers, they turn towards the internet because there is not face-to-face interaction. It is something to fall back on because it is much easier to express one’s self on the internet rather than in person.

This in return may lead to social anxiety and even social phobia. It was also shown that students’ academic performance was affected by their internet addiction. These students found themselves spending an excessive amount of time online and this habit caused problems with them completing their school work. Now, despite the fact that it caused poor grades, the students found that they couldn’t control the amount of time spent online. Future research could be done to see if satisfaction with school is a result or linked to internet addiction. There are several limitations that come with these types of studies.

Since they are cross-sectional, no casual relationships can be examined. Also, since they are mostly pen and paper, there could be response bias. It may be beneficial to conduct some interviews of students or multiple assessments. Next, since they were given to students during class time, some may have been missing because they were sick or even because they are so addicted they could not leave their room. A way to fix this would be to maybe send the survey via email to students on their school accounts that way you have a greater chance of getting a better sample.

All in all, this study will most likely suggest that internet addiction is prevalent in college-aged students and that there are in fact psychological characteristics that are associated with that addiction that could need attention if not treated properly. Future research should also be geared towards the addiction of mobile social media. Increasingly all kinds of social network sites are accessed and used through mobile devices (Humphreys, 2012). With the prevalence of smart phones, making everything portable, people can check their accounts from anywhere.

In fact, there are more people that have a phone than those who have an internet connection. This suggests that for many people, the first time they encounter social media will be on a mobile device (Humphreys, 2012). With having these accounts right at your fingertips, one would think that the chances of becoming addicted would skyrocket. However there I did not find a study that suggested there was a correlation between the two. I’m assuming that since the prevalence of smart phones and mobile social media is a pretty new concept, there could be a study sometime in the future.

I think that since it is always with you, someone could be more addicted than someone is to being on a computer. I have seen first-hand the effects of always checking your social media pages has on communication with people face-to-face. The person becomes wrapped up in their accounts and doesn’t engage in conversation. You could be talking to them and they won’t even be able to hear what you asked them. It can be aggravating. Only time will tell if someone will study these two very interesting topics together.


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  2. ABC Premium News (Australia), retrieved from www. lexisnexus. com/hottopics/Inacademic
  3. Cheung, L. M. , & Wong, W. S. (2011). The effects of insomnia and internet addiction on depression in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents: an exploratory cross-sectional analysis. Journal Of Sleep Research, 20(2), 311-317.
  4. Humphreys, L. (2012). Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(4), 494-510.
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  6. Sar, A. , & Aksoz, Y. (2011). INTERNET ADDICTION AMONG ADOLESCENTS AND ITS RELATION TO SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING. International Journal Of Academic Research, 3(6), 308-312.
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  8. Lin, M. , Ko, H. , & Wu, J. (2011). Prevalence and Psychosocial Risk Factors Associated with Internet Addiction in a Nationally Representative Sample of College Students in Taiwan. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(12), 741-746.
  9. Weinstein, A. , & Lejoyeux, M. (2010). Internet Addiction or Excessive Internet Use. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 36(5), 277-283.

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Social Media Addiction. (2016, Sep 16). Retrieved from