Behavioural & Cognitive Sciences

Which strategies do we create to control our own social media use?

Social media and social networks are omnipresent in our daily lives. We all have been stuck scrolling down on Youtube, reading friend’s comments on Facebook, checking likes on Instagram or kilometers on Strava. But are we able to control ourselves? And when we do, which strategies do we use?

Many young adults present excessive patterns of social networking site (SNS) use and try to self-regulate it. However, little is known regarding the daily-life strategies employed by young adult SNS users and their role in preventing the emergence of addiction-like symptoms in relation to SNS use. 

Two studies to understand self-controlling strategies 

Understanding these self-controlling strategies and approaches is critical. It can inform therapists and serve as a basis for future intervention studies aimed at diminishing the potential negative consequences induced by excessive SNS use. Dr. Damien Brevers (University of Luxembourg) and Prof. Ofir Turel (California State University Fullerton) recently published a paper reporting the results of two studies that aimed to make initial strides toward this objective. 

The two researchers conducted two studies to know more about Social Network Site self-regulation among young adults. In the first study, they employed a naturalistic-qualitative approach for finding commonly employed self-control strategies in relation to SNS use. In the second one, they examined differences between the frequency and difficulty of the strategies identified in the first study. They also tested the process through which trait self-control exerts influence on reducing SNS addiction symptomology. 

Good habits for effective self-control

The first study reveals six families of self-control strategies, some reactive (“in the moment”) and some proactive (“anticipatory”). The second study pinpointed the most commonly used and most difficult to enact ones. It also showed that the difficulty to enact self-control strategies in relation to SNS use partially mediates the effect of trait self-control via SNS use habit on SNS addiction symptom severity. In other words, these results showed that self-control is more about building good habits and being less involved with bad habits, than about being intrinsically good at resisting short-term temptations. 

Taken together, the current results offer a preliminary portrait of common self-control strategies for regulating SNS use, and their role in reducing social media addiction-like symptoms. These findings can inform therapists, parents, and educators trying to help people deal with or prevent excessive social media use. They can also serve as a basis for intervention studies aiming at helping individuals to take back control over SNS use. 

Read the full article here

Brevers, D., & Turel, O. (2019). Strategies for self-controlling social media use: Classification and role in preventing social media addiction symptoms. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8, 554-563.

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