Social Media is it the 21st Century nicotine?
Terms of Reference
The following Research Report is in reference to the question “Is the use of social media an addiction?”. Addictions can come from many things; Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling are a few. Across the world people use social media for many different reasons, which include for business, social reasons, shopping among many others. According to many statistics, there are over 3 million users of social media worldwide. The author uses social media and therefore has an insight into the topic and how it can or does affect her life personally and from her research how it affects others.
This research report is about social media and if it is addictive. Social media has many outlets, which allow you to function on many levels within the 21st century. An article written on Lifewire, gives pros and cons for social media usage. According to an article on Lifewire, Elise Moreau wrote; “One of the most obvious pros of using social networks is the ability to instantly reach people from anywhere”, (Elsie Moreau 2018). Social media comes in many forms, as apps, emails, videos. The author published a research questionnaire which contained 18 questions relating to 250 participants social media usage. The information collected, provided the author an insight into the usage of social media across a broad range of people. The information form this survey has been presented in graphs/charts which in turn will allow the reader to compare differences from answers gained.
You can see the results below, from the survey, out of the 250 participants only 15% were male. (See appendix A). According to (Paul Revoir, 2008), in his article for the Mail on Line, “Facebook is to blame for ‘friendship addiction’ among women”. My statistics support this with 85% of my participants being female. The age ranges were between; 15-25yrs and 56 and over, out of these, 10% of users were between 15-25yrs, 42% 26 -35yrs, 27% 36-45yrs, 15% 26-55yrs and finally 6% of participants were aged 56 and over. Appendix B shows the most popular age range of users of social media from the participants to be between the ages of 26 and 35. The participants were asked how many hours they spend on social media on a daily basis, 48% was the highest spending 2-3 hours a day, people using more than 3 hours was close to this on 40%, leaving only 12% logging on any social media sites for an hour or less a day. (See appendix C).
Participants were asked, “on a typical day, which social media sites do you use?”, this was a multiple choice question which enabled one or more sites to be chosen. Appendix D, shows the results from the 250 participants; Facebook was the most popular at 43%, Instagram was second with 25%, these two were more popular than YouTube with 14%, Pintrest with 9% and Twitter with a close 8%. Dreamgrow, have an article which shows Facebook to be the most popular social media site, with over 2 million users logging on a month, Instagram comes in third place with 1 million users monthly. (Priit Kallas, 2018).
Participants were asked whether the time spent on social media sites were used looking at what others had posted or posting about their lives. The question was on a scale of 0 being strongly disagree to 10 strongly agree. The results showed that most of the participants used social media to look at other peoples lives 57 people on the higher scale of 8, compared to 45 people on the lower scale of 2 posting about their own lives. (See appendix E & E1).
To find out how disruptive social media was in the participants’ lives and whether this could be seen as an addiction, they were given three separate statements, these were rated again on a scale of 0 to 10. The three statements were; ” I check my social media if I awake during the night and first thing in the morning”, “I check my social media at work (even though it disrupts me and could be against company policy)” and “social media interrupts my social life (choosing this instead of socialising with family & friends”. 64 people scored the highest on a scale of 10 followed by 36 on a scale of 8, agreed that if they awoke during the night then they would check their accounts and it was the first thing they did in the morning. As for checking social media at work 62 people scored the highest on the scale of 1, which showed that the majority did not let social media interrupt their work time. Neither did it affect the participants’ social life as the highest score was 69 people on the lower score of 1. (See appendix F & F1). These results were interesting as when then asked to answer the statement “I use social media as a way to combat boredom and loneliness”, using the scale of 0 strongly disagree and 10 strongly agree. Appendix G shows, 41 people applied the scale of 10 closely followed by 30 people on the scale of 8. This showed that although social media didn’t disrupt family, friend or working time, when it was used it was because the user had time on their hands to fill and social media was what they opted to use to fill this time.
Signs of addiction could manifest as stress or anxiety, it taking over your life impacting work and home, spending more time than is necessary on sites looking at others lives, rather than on your own. Participants were asked, if they felt anxious when they could not get onto social media due to no wifi. Results showed that this was not an issue 97 people chose the scale of between 0 and 1 against 12 people choosing between the scale of 9 and 10. The results from this gave conflicting evidence as when asked if they had tried to cut down time on social media, a high 78% said yes against 28% answering no. These results are shown below in appendices H ;I.
From this research report the evidence is conflicting, from the questions asked and the findings from the answers given, the author concludes that social media can be an addiction, but this questionnaire did not show that the 250 participants were addicted. Social media is used by the majority of the world population, most users are in control of the time spent on it, the majority of users go on social media to combat boredom. As the majority of the participants were in the age bracket of 36 -45, it is concluded that they are able to ensure that equal time is given to family and friends and does not affect the workplace in any way, having a healthy control on when and where they visit these sites.
Facebook being the most popular social media site enables users to not only post about their own lives (which was low on this survey), but enables them to keep in touch with others and be a virtual part of their life, reading about others daily lives and being able to see photographs posted of what their “virtual friends” have been doing. The visual sites such as Facebook and instagram scored the highest which shows people enjoy not only reading about others, but being able to visually be part of ‘friends’ lives. It was surprising that twitter showed to have a low score of 8% as #’s are used daily by business’s, celebrities, news and tv shows.
Although the findings from this research report were inconclusive as to whether social media was an addiction, the fact that 78% had said they had tried to give up social media and failed shows that it is an issue in peoples lives which they find hard to give up, so more of a habit than an addiction?.
The author, if this research report was to be completed again, would interview a wide range of ages and genders face to face. This would ensure that the participants could be probed with add on questions to gain a more in depth look into the subject. Also a survey or questionnaire could split into different age range groups to decipher whether addiction was more prevalent in a younger age group?. The author would also recommend another survey to be completed using different questions, asking participants, their views on whether they thought social media was addictive or not, if they classed themselves to be addicted to social media and why?. This would have given more in depth findings and made them more interesting. The author would then be able to decipher if social media was addictive or not and what findings there were to support this statement. Although the use of this questionnaire provided was beneficial to the research report.