Your addiction to social media is probably making you a jerk.
Researchers from Michigan State University and California State University-Fullerton found that there are dark sides to social media use including an enhanced call to be “cruel” and “callous online.” Dar Meshi, a cognitive neuroscientist and assistant professor at Michigan State University, said that researchers were interested in finding out both the benefits and problems with social media use.
“Both Facebook and Snapchat have separate features that make users want to keep coming back and using these platforms,” Meshi said in a statement. “We were interested in measuring not only problematic use, but also the specific social rewards people might be looking for when using them.”
The study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors Reports, consisted of 472 college-aged participants where their time was measured on the two social media platforms, in addition to their problematic use and how often they tried to quit the apps. Participants were also asked to fill out surveys measuring their “preferences for social rewards” such as admiration, passivity, prosocial interactions, sexual relationships, sociability, and negative social potency.
Researchers found that participants spent more time on Snapchat than on Facebook, and on Snapchat, behaviors were more problematic while participants tried more attempts to quit Facebook.
“Remarkably, we saw a correlation between problematic use on both platforms and negative social potency — which is people’s desire to be cruel, callous and use others for personal gain,” Meshi said. “These survey items asked about one’s enjoyment embarrassing or angering others, for example.”
For more problematic users, researchers said that those who fell into that category had “higher preference levels for negative social potency rewards,” meaning they had more enjoyment from negative social interactions. Traits like negative social potency, admiration, and sociability were positively associated with problematic Snapchat use, however only negative social potency was linked to problematic Facebook use, according to a press release.
“Given our finding that college students’ use of Snapchat is more problematic, we thought there would have been more attempts to quit or curtail use,” Meshi said.
He added: “If there’s a patient who says they’re having problems overusing these platforms, the clinician will have a better understanding as to what drives them socially and should be better able to help them,” said Meshi.