Social Media Is Making Us More Narcissistic: Prevalence Among Youth

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Social Media (SM), which is any online platform that enables social interaction, is highly prevalent among young adults and is affecting their psychological well-being (…). It has a variety of online networking sites, and individuals may use it for various purposes such as entertainment, communication, and marketing. SM has facilitated worldwide communication that was impossible before, and has become viral throughout the globe. However, there are several negative facets of SM. This have led most investigators to research the possible connection between the negative aspects of SM use and psychological disorders among emerging adults who seem to be at the most risk (…). It is also observed SM exposure may lead to excessive SM use, which is the inability to regulate one’s Internet use (…). For example, a considerable number of undergraduate students can be seen preoccupied in their cellphones using SM sites. SM can replace face-to-face interactions, thus providing a safe and ideal environment for narcissists who in turn use its self-presentational features for self-promotion practices (Casale, Fioravanti, & Rugai, 2016; Lee & Sung, 2016). Baek, Bae, and Jang (2013) state that online interaction may result in a virtual social interaction, which increases loneliness. Additionally, Mauri et al. state that Facebook has been shown to trigger physiological stress responses (as cited in Vannucci, Flannery, & Ohannessian, 2017). Furthermore, Kross et al. and Sagioglou, and Greitemeyer argue that SM exposure move in tandem with mood dysregulation (as cited in Lin et al., 2016). Therefore, it is crucial for researchers to assess the association between SM exposure and mental illnesses which may enable developing preemptive measure aimed at assisting vulnerable individuals (…). This literature review discusses the scholarly information published in six articles regarding the association between SM use and psychological disorders. It examines these studies in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, and it indicates the lack of research in the literature. Furthermore, it divides the essay into three thematic sections which are SM use/addiction and depression, anxiety, and narcissism. Consistent with the aforementioned propositions, SM exposure may be indeed related with depression, anxiety, and narcissism.

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Research agrees that depression plays an important role in increasing the amount of problematic use of SM. Depression may come in several forms that include neuroticism and loneliness. Some scholars argue that online communication in SM has distinct types (Lin et al., 2016), and others have recognized two types of online relationship, social and parasocial relationships (Baek, Bae, & Jang, 2013). Lin et al. (2016) highlight that there is indeed a linear relationship between SM use and depression. That is, higher SM use is linked to with greater level of depression. Likewise, Blackwell et al. (2017) show that neuroticism is a major contributor to SM use and addiction. This means that neuroticism can lead to addictive SM use. Similarly, parasocial relationship is positively related with loneliness, but social relationship is negatively correlated with loneliness (Baek et al., 2013). Both types of SM relationships are associated with obsessed SM use. Lin et al. (2016) have focused on depression broadly, whereas the other two studies have focused on neuroticism and parasocial relationships (…). A closer look to the literature on the association between SM use and narcissism, however, reveals a number of shortcomings. For example, the three studies have used self-reported measures. With self-reported measures, the data reliability is limited since participants’ answers may be subject to self-presentational biases and social desirability, especially on highly evaluative personality traits. That is, the participants may deliberately give false reports, misremember past action, misunderstand an item, and exhibit self-enhancement and socially acceptable responding. However, since the study of SM is still relatively novel, self-report assessments can best grasp this phenomenon with ease and efficiency. 

Moreover, it is a limitation that Lin et al.’s (2016) study and Baek et al.’s (2013) study were cross-sectional. Thus, it is difficult to determine whether the exposure or outcome came first since both were assessed simultaneously. In other words, it is still unknown whether individuals get depressed as they spend a large amount of time on SM, or whether they are already depressed so they resort to use SM. In addition, Blackwell et al. (2017) are somewhat biased as a result of using dual techniques to recruit participants from an online setting and a psychology undergraduate class. The unequal gender ratio among the participants could also be a limitation. Consequently, given the unrepresentative nature of the sample that does not give a useful snapshot of the wider public’s SM usage, the results of the study cannot be extended to the entire population. Additionally, there is no a go-between mental condition between the reliance on online relationships and the mental welfare in Beak et al.’s (2013) study. The study has also overlooked the rigor of relationships, and has focused exclusively on the number of relationships of the two types. Despite limitations, the findings of the two studies of Lin et al. (2016) and Blackwell et al. (2017) echo earlier studies conducted on that topic. Additionally, Beak et al.’s (2013) findings are new and show that the psychological impacts are based on the type of the online relationship. 

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