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The Influence Of Social Networks On Young People

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Internet has become an important tool for close communications and exchange of information being the most device use in the actuality. Additionally, to increasing use of internet, it has grown the number of people that handle the mobile phone and social media being compulsive users a great number of the population. For instance, 40 million Americans show signs of compulsively using technology. Among this technology developed the number and amount of time that people use social networking sites has increased with a billion of users all around the globe.

Social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook and Instagram, are internet-based sites that enable users to create personal profiles and share, view, comment and ‘like’ peer-generated content. The SNSs are characterized by three elements: each user has a personal profile; the list connections are publicly visible; a stream of frequently updated content is shown, which is principally created and popularized from one’s connections. Importantly, SNSs have become more popular than traditional media formats (i.e., television, magazines) among young people with 90% of them (ages 18-29) reported to be active SNSs users. Even though, young people are often thought of as a healthy group. Nevertheless, many adolescents do die prematurely due to illnesses which are in many cases preventable or treatable and sometimes results in chronic ill-health and disability. The fact that people use SNSs such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for large amounts of time has become an indisputable reality. These networks have become the most common form of sociocultural interaction for young people because of various factors such as maintaining contact with friends and family, meeting people with similar interests, entering into a romantic relationship, and making online purchases. Inside these social networks stands out young people as the most addicted users, accessing networks daily or even multiple times a day. Because of this addictive use, social networks have a strong influence on young people, even changing their habits, lifestyle and perceptions. Nonetheless, young people do not perceive this influence, believing that the information received by these social networks does not affect them. Unlike traditional media consumers, SNSs users are both passive recipients of content as well as ‘active’ content creators.

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However, the influence of social networks on young people has been proven to provoke changes across many areas that compose personality, from body image perception to hypersalivation, resulting on changes in the personality. The most outstanding results of this addiction, especially Facebook, are the change in body image, body concerns, eating disorder, depression and alcohol use provoking illness and risky behaviors that will determine the quality of life in the adulthood. Furthermore, a research found a link between the intensity of SNSs use, personality and life satisfaction. Finally, it has been suggested that excessive SNSs use could represent addictive behavior with mental health implications.

SNSs addiction can be defined as excessive involvement in SNSs activities and is a frequent cause of problems in everyday social functioning. It is also characterized by tolerance, withdrawal, relapse and so on which are the features commonly observed in other addiction diseases which can be described by the six core components of any addiction such as salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict and relapse. He also argues that any behavior (e.g. social networking) that fulfills these six criteria can be considered as an addiction. Addictive behaviors are related to specific individual characteristics. Previous studies suggest that personal traits play an important role in addictive behavior. Moreover, a previous research focused on Facebook addiction found that common users differ statistically in self-esteem and life satisfaction from both addicted and intensive users. In fact, Facebook addiction was in relation with lower self-esteem and was also negatively related to life satisfaction. Additionally, numerous studies has established a linked between addictions behaviors, standing out the addiction to games and SNSs among men, and variations in the ratio of second-to-fourth digit length (2D:4D ratio). This ratio is a biological marker based on prenatal testosterone levels and is determined mainly during the fetal period and becomes stable across the lifespan starting at 2 years of age. Prenatal androgen exposure and responsiveness have been cited as predictors of 2D:4D ratios. The ratio of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D ratio) is a sexually dimorphic trait, with men tending to have lower values than women. Accordingly, typical masculine traits, such as aggression, reproductive success, sociosexuality, dominance, and competitiveness, have been shown to be inversely correlated with 2D:4D ratios. Notwithstanding the above, there is not a study focused on both a male and female sample capable of proving a significant correlation between 2D:4D ratio and social networks addiction.

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