REVIEW ARTICLE | OPEN ACCESS DOI: 10.23937/2469-5793/1510089

Social Networking Sites (SNSs) Addiction

Basem Abbas Al Ubaidi*

Consultant Family Physician, Arabian Gulf University (AGU), Kingdom of Bahrain


Social Networking Sites (SNSs) in our lives are an essential computer-generated combination regarded as a 'global customer phenomenon'. In recent times, as statistics have shown, this phenomenon daily records a dramatic increase in its users. It is a state of mental addiction, an illness if you may so call it for some users. It has been noted that some extroverts use social networks for social augmentation, whereas introverts use it for social compensation. Addicted customers mostly deal with low conscientiousness and high narcissism, and in the same vein, it has been noticed addiction harms their social, academic and relationship lives.


Social media, Social network addiction, Social networking sites, Social network advertising, Negative consequences, Comorbidity attitude


Social networking sites are perceived as a 'global consumer phenomenon', and there is a dramatic, exponential rise in its usage within the last few years. There is an escalating number of people that spend their time chatting and browsing the social networking sites. This phenomenon as it has been observed may potentiate a new era of social network site addiction (SNSs), and such media addiction has been found to be higher amongst the female population than the male [1].

The potential concern occurs when the time spent on media is gradually increased than the time spent on doing other activities. Though on another hand, people may engage in other different types of media addiction as SNSs does not relate to social media sites in the strict sense. SNSs are computer-generated societies where consumers can make public profiles, friend interaction on mutual interests [1].

Research Questions

1. What are the types of social network site (SNSs) addiction?

2. What are the signs and symptoms of SNSs addiction?

3. What is the underlying motivation and intention factors of SNSs addiction?

4. What are the signs and symptoms of behavioural of SNSs addiction?


An extensive literature review was conducted using the educational database Web of Facts as well as Google Scholar. The subsequent search terms, as well as their by-products, were entered: Social media, social network addiction, online network addiction, social networking sites, social network advertising, negative consequences, negative attitude, compulsive behaviour, excessive use, abuse, motivation, personality, and comorbidity. Studies were included if they: (i) Types of social network site (SNSs) usage patterns addiction, (ii) Signs and symptoms of SNSs addiction, (iii) Motivations for usage, (iv) Personality traits of users, (v) Negative consequences of use, (vi) Addiction, (vii) And/or comorbidity. A total of 48 empirical studies were identified from the literature, four of which specifically assessed SNS addiction.



Social networking locations are seen as a 'global exponential customer rise' over the last few years [2]. Mostly youth was spent much online time SNSs staying in touch with friends [2]. Gender plays a role in used SNSs 82% of males, and 75% of females had SNS profiles [3]. Males tend to have more friends on SNSs than females [4]. Furthermore, males were found to take more jeopardies with regards to release of personal information [5,6]. Teenagers activated the appetiser system in Internet game overuses and addicts [7,8].


There are five different types of social network site addiction. First is computer addiction (i.e., computer game addiction), second is information overload (i.e., web surfing addiction). While third is net compulsions (i.e., online gambling or online shopping addiction), fourth is a cyber-sexual addiction (i.e., online pornography or online sex addiction). However, last is a cyber-relationship addiction (i.e., an addiction to online relationships) [9].

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of SNSs addiction are many such as the consumer may neglect their personal life and has mental uneasiness. Also, shows a high tendency to escapism, mood modifying experiences. Whereas, the addictive behaviours show an increased level of intolerance and has concealed addictive behaviour [10].

Behavioural addiction

There are many behavioural changes of chronic continuous use of SNSs such as classical mood modification with favourable emotional and positive mental state which leads to intense behavioural, mental, and emotional obsession and passion for using SNSs. While heavy consumers show withdrawal symptoms; it is a mix of nasty physical and emotional symptoms when there is an attempt to control the use of SNSs. Also, the addict shows a high incidence of interpersonal conflicts. The consumers show a high frequency of relapse rate which is a quick return to addictive behaviours after an abstinence period [11]. SNSs addiction is the pathological use of social networking sites rather than regular range use [12].


The internal motivation for social networking sites addiction is individual selfishness behaviour (egocentrism/egocentric). In the beginning, they will have positive, pleasurable feelings after its use. It visibly "raises their spirits/mood or state [12]. Consumers are driven by the need to have a higher social identity (share society in their virtual realm, being a part of group norms, nourishing interpersonal interconnectivity and social enhancement) [12].

Users are motivated by higher altruism to relative and mutual humanity. Consumers are motivated for virtual telepresence by the presence in virtual communication or by higher interdependent self-construal (i.e., the endorsement of collectivist cultural values). Persons are driven by higher collective self-esteem suffering from lower self-esteem and group identification positively correlated with peer group communication [13-17].

Social factors are more important than personal motivating factors for SNSs usage as it has been discovered that participation in SNSs appears to be particularly advantageous to individuals with low self-esteem [18,19].

The intention

The plan is to use social media differs. The differences depend on gender, age group and in some cases nationality. These sites are mostly used for enjoyment and entertainment or due to common mass use technology, faith in the place, ease of use, communication with colleagues, social reward, social support, social identity satisfaction learning, seeking friends, and potential academic, professional opportunities and a host of others! [20,21].

Personality trait

Extroverted people who are perceived to have higher self-esteem have large offline social networks, while introverted people on the other hand who are recognised to have low self-esteem and low life-satisfaction have few offline contacts [15-19]. Similarly, extroverted people have more friends than introverted people.

moreover, higher social media interactions on Facebook (using Facebook as a case study) than introverted persons. On the other hand, introverts, disclose more personal information on their pages. While extroverts use SNSs for social enhancement, introverts use it for social compensation [22-26].

People with narcissistic personality traits are more addicted to Facebook; research has shown the reason for this being the fact that they wish to empower their self-thought ideas [24,25,27-29]. Shy people, on the other hand, try to compensate themselves by having large amounts of friends on Facebook, because of the possibility of easy access to media without the embarrassment of real-life proximity and intimacy [28]. Also, high neuroticism scores use more text-based Facebook's posts more frequently, people with low neuroticism scores prefer posting photos [23].

In general, the person who readily discloses private information seeks self-assurance online, whereas that scoring low is emotionally secure [30]. Finally, agreeableness and conscientiousness seem to be linked to the degree of SNSs usage; higher usage is associated with narcissistic, neurotic, extrovert and introvert personality traits with high risk for SNSs addiction [30].


Society perceives addicted persons to be less involved with their real-life communities. They are disinhibited predominantly by negative feedback have low self-esteem and low well-being. The addicted student has lower Grade Point Averages and poor academic performance. Addicted people have negative impacts and suffer procrastination, distraction, and poor time-management. Addicted people are more prone to romantic relationships. Social Networking Sites (SNSs) Addiction are more prone to jealousy and cyberstalking, also, are more prone to relationship problems (divorce), substance abuse and associated legal action. They have more dysfunctional coping (i.e., escapism and avoidance) [31-37].

SNSs addiction is a genuine mental health problem that needs attention from professionals, SNSs has effects on an affected person's social-biological, behavioural, and in fact professional development [38].

Vulnerable young people with narcissistic tendencies are prone to have the SNSs addictive behaviour [38,39]. People addicted to SNSs share similar symptoms with those affected by substance addiction [39]. Therefore, addicted people who consider themselves as friendly media users appear to be at risk of developing an addiction to SNSs [40]. However, high extraversion personality and low conscientiousness scores ominously predicted both top addictive trends and spent more time using SNSs [41].

Therapy aims to control rather than enforce total abstinence from using media, and this is done using cognitive-behavioural therapies [39]. Addicted people easily develop anxiety symptoms, as well as insomnia [42]. SNSs game addiction is more in males due to gratification in-game achievement [43].

The adequate criteria for diagnosing behavioural SNSs addictions are to have at least three factors [37]. Including (i) Tolerance, (ii) Withdrawal, (iii) Increased usage, (iv) Loss of control, (v) Extended recovery periods, (vi) Sacrificing societal, occupational and recreational activities, and (vii) Continued use despite adverse consequences [44,45].


There are over 500 million SNSs users worldwide. The rise in some active participants in the global consumers of the Facebook community alone, and it is made up of mostly 55% adolescents and 82% adults. The SNSs activity is an enjoyable one who is experienced with high appetitive system activation.

Female users are usually at ease communicating with a peer group, while male users do for social compensation; enhance learning, and identity social gratifications. Furthermore, men tend to divulge more personal information, more frequent SNSs users, more addicted to SNSs games and playing online games.

While, "silver surfers" (i.e., those over the age of 60 years) have low social friends, but in general, SNSs customers are mainly using for social purposes to sustain bridging social capital as "collective intelligence". Therefore, SNSs users sometimes seek emotional support, from family, relatives, friends and distant acquaintances.

Extraversion and introversion personality traits have different motivation and several purposes for SNSs use (e.g. extraverts enhance their social networks, whereas introverts compensate for the lack of real-life social networks).

Potential Conflicts of Interest


Competing Interest





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Al Ubaidi BA (2018) Social Networking Sites (SNSs) Addiction. J Fam Med Dis Prev 4:089.