Technostress may cause social media addiction, study suggests

Users of a social networking site (SNS) are more likely to exhibit addiction when they are faced with technostress, a new study suggests.

The study, published in Information Systems Journal, focused on the routines of 444 users on Facebook, a social networking site founded by Mark Zuckerberg. What researchers discovered was that switching between activities, such as reading and/or updating newsfeeds and communicating with friends or family, causes stress, which ultimately leads to social media addiction over a longer period of time.

The addiction, researchers say, is the result of seeking ways to cope with stressors within the same social networking site rather than utilizing another form of social media or online activity. This is mainly due to the vast array of features on the social networking site contributing to the excessive behavior, as specified in the findings.

“While it might seem counter-intuitive, social media users are continuing to use the same platforms that are causing them stress rather than switching off from them, creating a blurring between the stress caused and the compulsive use,” according to Monideepa Tarafdar, co-author of the study.

“Because social network sites offer such a wide range of features, users can find they act both as stressors and as a distraction from that stress,” other researchers added.

Among the stressors triggered by social media were constant updates, invasion of personal life, and too much social information. The two ways of coping with stressors were diversion through other activities on social media or spending time offline, the findings showed.

“Users go to different areas of the platform which they see as being separate and that they use in different ways. With Facebook, there are features that take you into different worlds within the same platform. The idea of using the same environment that is causing the stress as means of coping with that stress is novel,” said Tarafdar. “It is an interesting phenomenon that seems distinctive to technostress from social media.”