An investigation of the dark side of social networking sites
Study: Understanding social networking site (SNS) identity from a dual systems perspective: An investigation of the dark side of SNS use
If you do not have access to your favorite social networking site (SNS) like Facebook or Instagram, does this mean that you simply miss a tool that you sometimes need in your daily life or does it touch you more deeply? It is an important observation of recent research that the use of social networking sites over several hours per day has to be understood as something more substantial than just the usage of a tool.
This article builds on the idea that information technology, here specifically social networking sites (SNS), is so intertwined with the daily life of their users that it has become for many of them a part of their identity. This idea has been conceptualized as “IT identity” in prior research and the authors take it one step further by investigating SNS identity. Presumable consequences of this conceptualization is that SNS usage becomes habit, which would partially explain the lack of self-control over the time of SNS usage.
The authors find support for various hypotheses that explain the connection between antecedents and consequences of IT identity. Apparently, two types of cognitive processes are involved. In the reflective system (the system of rational thinking), personal and injunctive norms like peer-pressure influence the extent of usage of SNSs. In the reflexive system (the system of affective responses), the extent to which SNS usage has become a habit is relevant for IT identity. Both extent of usage and habit explain to which extent a person has developed a sense of IT identity in relation to a SNS. An important consequence of usage, habit and IT identity are deficits in self-regulation of time. It is striking that habit alone is found to explain half of the variation in deficient self-regulation.
How it was studied:
The authors conducted their research using a survey design involving 214 colleague students. The resulting data was analyzed using a structural model with the AMOS 22 software. All hypotheses turned out to be at least partially significant (as usage was measured with four constructs) with one exception: what was not significant was the connection between usage and deficient self-regulation. This is interesting as this emphasizes the importance of habit and IT identity for losing the sense of time while using SNS.