Stream experiences on TikTok and Instagram linked to mental health issues

According to a new study published in Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks.

The study examined ‘flow’ experiences resulting from the use of social media. Flow was first introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1970s to describe a mental state that occurs when a person is completely immersed in an activity. In the context of social media, feed experiences can occur when a person scrolls through their feed and becomes fully engrossed in the content they are consuming.

“My research interests include the relationship between smartphone and social media use and psychological well-being,” said study author James A. Roberts, Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Hankamer. Baylor University School of Business.

“Given these interests, I am very familiar with the various social media applications available. My personal experience with TikTok suggests that it is potentially very addictive. Instagram’s popularity across a wide range of age groups (especially teens and young adults) and its recent links to teenage eating disorders caught my attention.

The researchers recruited participants who lived in the United States, were at least 18 years old, and had used TikTok and/or Instagram. The sample included 195 Instagram users (average age=38) and 225 TikTok users (average age=37). Objective measures of time spent on social media were obtained by asking participants to check their phones for the exact time spent on relevant apps.

To assess feed experiences, the researchers adapted the Facebook feed questionnaire by replacing “Facebook” with “TikTok” or “Instagram”. The questionnaire assessed five different dimensions: focused attention, enjoyment, curiosity, telepresence, and time distortion. Participants also completed measures of fear of missing out (FOMO), social media addiction, anxiety, and depression.

The researchers found that 24% of TikTok users and 28% of Instagram users would be considered addicted according to diagnostic criteria. Among the flow subscales, telepresence was found to have the highest correlation with social media addiction, mind wandering, FOMO, anxiety, and depression.

Those with a high level of telepresence agree with statements such as “Use [Tiktok/Instagram] often makes me forget where I am and what is currently happening around me” and “By using [Tiktok/Instagram]the world generated by the sites I visit is more real to me than the real world.

TikTok users reported higher levels of overall flow, as well as higher levels of fun and time warp, compared to Instagram users. “People become so engrossed in using TikTok that they’ll neglect other activities,” Roberts said.

The study may have a limitation because it did not investigate how people use social media platforms differently, such as passive versus active use. Previous research suggests that passive use of social media, such as the so-called “descendant scroll,” may reduce psychological well-being. But some research also indicates that active use, such as talking with others, can improve well-being.

“Research is still needed to better understand why people use particular social media,” Roberts said. “The reasons are many and probably impact the well-being of the user differently. And it has also been found that how someone uses social media (actively or passively) improves user experience. »

“I think social media can be, as Thoreau foresightedly said nearly 170 years ago of mankind’s inventions, ‘They are just improved means to an unimproved end… ‘ This social media can provide an escape from everyday worries, albeit a suboptimal coping strategy.” adds the researcher.

The study, “Instagram and TikTok Flow States and Their Association with Psychological Well-Being,” James A. Roberts and Meredith E. David.

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