Term Paper: Analying Impact of Social Networking on Self Esteem

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¶ … Social Networking on Self-Esteem

This proposed study aims at gauging the effect of social networking on individuals' self-esteem. The main focus of this research is ascertaining the implications of social networking on the self-esteem and self-worth of people. Studies have suggested that increased time devoted to social networking sites like Facebook is associated with poor self-esteem. The main population group focused on will be college students. Research participants will include 40 undergraduate students (20 female and 20 male) of a mid-sized Northeastern University. Bivariate correlation will be employed for the study. The research is expected to determine whether increased Facebook use as well as interactions on social media is linked negatively to self-esteem. Further, the study is expected to determine who commits more time to Facebook -- males or females. Its findings will likely help ascertain if increased social networking exposure lowers one's satisfaction with one's body image and increases the drive to become thinner, among females.

How does Social Networking Impact Self-esteem?

1. Introduction

Considering its role and popularity in the social networking arena, Facebook may prove to be a valuable college adjustment tool. It has been considered the societal glue which aids students in adjusting to college/university life. Costin, Morris and Kalpidou's (2011) study found a strong link between college adjustment and number of friends on Facebook. Apparently, having a large number of friends on Facebook is associated positively with attachment for one's college/university, and social adjustment, particularly among students who belong to the upper-classes of society. The term "social adjustment" implies a sense of blending in with one's college/university community, establishing social associations on campus, and engaging in on-campus social activities.

1.1. Problem statement

A novel type of communication -- social networking -- emerged with the Internet's advent more than ten years ago. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking websites have gained increasing popularity and form a virtually basic part of daily life, particularly for college-goers. Facebook, which was launched in the year 2004, is, at present, the leading social networking website with more than a billion active accounts. With introduction of the site to developing nations, this number is projected to grow significantly. Nine out of ten college students are registered on Facebook. The average time in a day devoted to this social network ranges from half an hour to more than two hours. Considering all the time a person spends on such networking sites that enable him/her to make a personal profile, upload his/her photographs, and share personal information with friends, one has to wonder about its implications on the person's self-esteem and self-worth.

1.2. Significance / Implications

This research proposes to examine the link of Facebook and other social networking websites with users' self-esteem, with particular focus on college students. Studies have suggested that increased time devoted to Facebook is associated with poor self-esteem. Apparently, increased time spent online causes a decline of direct interactions with family members, friends and acquaintances, which may give rise to the feelings of depression and loneliness.

2. Literature Review

Hofmann and Nadkarni's (2012) research found that Facebook use was driven by the need for belonging and self-presentation. While the former need arises from cultural and demographic factors, the latter is impacted by self-esteem, self-worth, shyness, narcissism, neuroticism and other such personality traits. This finding was corroborated by Marcus and Chen's (2012) study, wherein it was found that individuals usually disclose differently on social networks than personally, and that personality and culture contribute to such behavior. For instance, it was found that individuals who are more introverted are generally less honest, whilst being more audience-friendly, when it comes to self-disclosure online.

A number of researches have examined the influence of personality traits on people's social networking habits. Much of this body of literature seems to employ the "Big Five" or Five Factor personality model for comparing mean time devoted to sites like Facebook with lower or higher scores for certain trait groups. This model indicates that much of variety in human personality may be categorized into the following five main personality traits: agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, and receptiveness to experience (Skues, Williams, & Wise, 2012).

The findings of one research showed that people who are highly neurotic will be more prone to posting a large number of their photos on Facebook. Moreover, it was found that individuals with low or high neuroticism usually share a greater amount of their basic data on Facebook, compared to moderately neurotic persons, suggesting different behavior motives, particularly a self-assurance need (Amichai-Hamburger and Vinitzky, 2010). The aforementioned results were confirmed in another research, which found that self-disclosure in case of highly neurotic individuals was mediated by the motivation for expressing hidden and ideal self-aspects (Seidman, 2013). Further studies have revealed that the element of impression management also relates closely to the total number of Facebook friends, profile detail level, and personal photo presentation, particularly among highly extroverted persons.

Campbell and Buffardi's 2008 research revealed that individuals with higher narcissism levels usually post more personal information on Facebook, spend more of their day on Facebook, and check the site more often. It appears likely that those who are narcissist prefer Facebook and other social networking platforms as it helps them control how they are viewed by others, to a certain extent.

Research has revealed that people with poor self-esteem attempt at compensating by being increasingly active online (e.g., devoting more time to Facebook, logging into the site more often, and having a large "virtual friends" base). Apparently, on the web, the poor are able to get richer; that is, introverts are able to make up for their struggles with direct interactions via online social networking (Amichai-Hamburger & Vinitzky, 2010). Individuals with poorer self-esteem endeavor to make up for it by adding more friends, so as to create a feeling of belonging as well as increase their popularity perception.

Valerie Barker's 2009 research found that individuals reporting high self-image mostly utilize Facebook as a tool for passing time and communicating with peers (Barker, 2009). A similar research by Williams, Wise and Skues found that extroverted people normally participate more in Facebook social activities and utilize the website as a tool for enhancing and maintaining their social ties, rather than as an alternative to their social activities (Skues, Williams, & Wise, 2012). Kraut and colleagues' findings suggest that introverted people who use social networks experienced lower community involvement and increased loneliness, while extroverted people experienced increased community involvement and decreased loneliness (Kalpidou, Costin, & Morris, 2011).

Not much research has been done in the area of determining Facebook's impact on users' body image. Much prior research in the field has concentrated on the Internet or social media as a whole, rather than any particular site. This study will hopefully ascertain whether a correlation exists between time allocated to Facebook, satisfaction with body image, and levels of self-esteem.

3. Research Design

The study will employ bivariate correlation for evaluating participant responses to surveys. For comparison of gender and overall means, independent T-testing will be performed, with weekly time devoted to Facebook and number of Facebook friends being the independent variables. Body image and self-esteem will be the dependent variables measured (Seidman, 2013).

3.1. Participants

The participant group will comprise of 40 undergraduate students (20 females and 20 male) enrolled in a spring 2016 "Essentials of Psychology" course at a mid-sized Northeastern University. Invitations for participation will be sent to only those students aged 18 and above. Participating students will receive credit towards course research requirements.

3.2. Procedure

Students willing to take part in the research will be administered the following tests/surveys online: Facebook Intensity Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale Body Esteem Scale, and Eating Attitudes Test-26 (Chen & Marcus, 2012; Nadkarni & Hofmann, 2012). Students' anonymity will be ensured. Scoring of measures will help ascertain if a correlation exists between self-esteem and Facebook usage.

4. Expected Results

One prediction made by this research is that increased time devoted to Facebook and other social networking websites will adversely impact a person's self-esteem. To be more specific, more time devoted to viewing the profiles of others (including pictures and statuses) will increase risks of decrease in self-esteem and body image avoidance, particularly among female users. Thus, this research is expected to determine whether increased Facebook use as well as interactions on social media is linked negatively to self-esteem. Further, the study is expected to determine who commits more time to Facebook -- males or females. Its findings will likely help ascertain if increased social networking exposure lowers one's satisfaction with one's body image and increases the drive to become thinner, among females. Lastly, the research will conclude on whether psychological health and Facebook interaction are influenced by self-esteem.

5. Discussion

The above conclusions support the hypothesis that increased time devoted to social networking sites like Facebook is associated with poor self-esteem and body image, with greater adverse impact on females than males. The study does have a few limitations -- for instance, budget and time constraints limit the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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