There are hundreds of SNSs, with various technological affordances, supporting a wide range of interests and practices, Users can register for social networking sites With fast technologies, people can access SNSs with their smartphones, tablets without temporal and spatial limitations.
Pew Research Center, May 2013, 72% of online adults use social networking sites. Young adults are the most likely to say they use social media sites.
With the popularity of these sites, more and more young adults extensively adopt them for different motivations, and shift their real life communication to virtual communication, which may develop an addiction to these sites. which are common functions of these SNSs. the top 10 sites actually have a staggering 3.2 billion individual accounts. Among them, the most popular four SNSs are
Like all internet applications, overuse of SNSs can lead to an array of social, psychological, physical, and other problems for young people (Blaszczynski, 2006, 4: 7-9).
Exploring addiction to social networking service among young Chinese adults
Exploring Addictive Tendencies of Using Social
Networking Sites among Chinese Young Adults
---Focusing on Chinese Social Networking Sites
• Zhang Hairong
II. Literature Review
III. Research Questions
V. Research Methodology
Nowadays, the phenomenon of online social networking sites
(SNSs) has been consistently growing in popularity. Social
networking sites are virtual places that cater to a specific population
in which people of similar interest gather to communicate, share,
and discuss ideas (John Raacke, Jennifer Bonds Raacke, 2008). As we
know, the most popular sites are such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace,
Google Plus and so on.
1.constructing their public or semi-public profiles,
2.interacting with old friends, meeting new friends,
3. giving comments, receiving feedback from others,
4. sharing photos, updating status and etc..
Given the popularity of these sites and their
importance in young people’s lives to facilitate
communication and relationships, it is important to
understand the factors influencing SNS use, especially at
higher levels, and to identify those who may be prone to
developing addictive tendencies towards new
communication technologies (Walsh, White, Young,
Recent evidence suggests that individuals may feel
compelled to maintain their online social networks in a
way that may, in some circumstances, leading to using
SNSs excessively (Griffiths, 2013).
A report from TECHINASIA on Mar.
13, 2013, it’s estimated that 597
million people are active on social
media in China.
• This study is constructed under the circumstance of Chinese most popular
social networking sites as mentioned above, focusing on young adults
who are more likely engaged in SNSs.
The purpose is to:
• explore addictive tendencies of using SNSs among Chinese young adults,
• examine whether they have psychological dependence on SNSs
• analyze the correlation between these specific activities and addictive
Since there are few researches related with SNS addiction in China, this
study may provide a general comprehension of SNS addiction for users and
researchers who are concerned with this issue, and also try to draw much
more attention on this phenomenon in China and make some suggestions to
SNSs users if possible.
II. Literature Review
• Social networking sites are egocentric sites, which is the individual rather than the
community that is the focus of attention (Boyd, Ellison, 2008). People spent hours
chatting with their friends and browsing profiles on social networking sites. It
becomes a compulsive habit to visit own profile several times in a day for checking
friends’ updates, changing status and commenting on others’ photos and videos.
Because of the numerous benefits of SNSs, along with the ubiquitous environment,
once users start using an SNS, they cannot help but increase their usage and
develop an obsession with the SNS (Heijden, 2004). It’s argued that there are five
different types of internet addiction, namely computer addiction (i.e., computer
game addiction), information overload (i.e., web surfing addiction), net
compulsions (i.e., online gambling or online shopping addiction), cyber-sexual
addiction (i.e., online pornography or online sex addiction), and cyber-relationship
addiction（i.e.，an addiction to online relationships）(Young, 1999). SNS
addiction appears to fall in the last category since the purpose and main
motivation to use SNSs is to establish and maintain both on- and offline
relationships (Kuss, Griffiths, 2008).
• A behavioral addiction such as social networking sites addiction may thus
be seen from a bio psychosocial perspective. Just like substance-related
addictions, it would appear that in some individuals, SNS addiction
incorporates the experience of the ‘classic’ addiction symptoms, namely
mood modification (i.e., engagement in SNSs leads to a favorable change in
emotional states), salience (i.e., behavioral, cognitive, and emotional
preoccupation with the SNS usage), tolerance (i.e., ever increasing use of
SNSs overtime), withdrawal symptoms (i.e., experiencing unpleasant
physical and emotional symptoms when SNS use is restricted or stopped),
conflict (i.e., interpersonal and intrapsychic problems ensue because of SNS
usage), and relapse (i.e., addicts quickly revert back in their excessive SNS
usage after an abstinence period) (Griffiths: 2005, 191-197).
• So far, there are several studies on SNS addiction and psychological
predictors. However, compared to other forms of Internet addiction such as
cyber sexual addiction, addiction to SNSs does not command sufficient
research concerns. Little is known about the risks of the addiction, nor
about the protective factors that could guard against this specific form of
addiction (Wu, Cheung, Ku, HUNG, 2013). Scholars have hypothesized that
young vulnerable people with narcissistic tendencies are particularly prone
to engaging with SNSs in an addictive way (La Barbera et al, 2009, 12:628-
A study found that extroverted and unconscientious individuals reported higher levels of both
SNS use and addictive tendencies, suggesting that extroverts may become overly reliant on
SNSs because interactive experience meets their need for stimulation and social interaction
(Wilson, Fornasier, 2010).
Griffiths points out, the structural characteristics of particular activities are responsible for
reinforcement, may satisfy user’s needs, and may actually facilitate excessiveness
(Griffiths,1993). He also speculated that the structural and design characteristics of a website
seem to be particularly addictive. For example, an interactive experience can satisfy the
user’s personal needs and therefore reinforce the behavior (Griffiths,1998).
Besides, attitude and subjective norm significantly predicted intentions to engage in high-
level Social Networking Websites (SNWs) use with intention significantly predicting behavior.
Self-identity and belongingness significantly predicted addictive tendencies toward SNWs,
which suggests that users who looked for a sense of belongingness on SNWs might be at risk
for developing an addiction towards SNWs(Pelling, White, 2009, 12, 755-759).
The findings of another study revealed that those who spent more time on SNSs also reported
higher addictive tendencies, which positively correlated with both favorable outcome
expectancies and high impulsivity, but negatively associated with low Internet self-efficiency.
Compared to demographics, psychological factors provide a better account for addictive
tendencies towards SNSs among Chinese smartphone users in Macau (Wu, Cheung, Ku, Hung,
2013). Also, SNSs mainly used for social purposes, most of which are related to the
maintenance of established offline networks, relative to individual ones. Staying connected is
beneficial to those people, as the user’s expectations of connectivity are met through their SNS
usage, the potential for developing SNS addiction may increase as a consequence (Kuss,
Griffiths, 2011, 8: 3528-3552).
There is a case study on one of most popular campus-SNS site in China named Xiaonei.com.
The study investigated the relationship between perceived gratifications, loneliness and
addictive usage of campus-SNS websites. The results showed that campus-SNS addicts tend to
be female, young and have used campus-SNS websites for a relatively long time and frequently
visit the homepage of others, Loneliness was found to be a significant predictor for the
campus-SNS website addiction, meanwhile, social activities and relationship building were
found to predict SNS addiction(Wan, 2009).
Another study concerned with SNS game addiction, which was conducted among Chinese
college students in Hongkong. It is also a study of specific SNS game called Happy Farm. The
author found that there was a weak positive correlation between loneliness and SNS game
addiction and a moderate positive correlation between leisure boredom and SNS game
addiction. Then the gratification“inclusion”（in a social group）and “achievement” (in game),
leisure boredom and male gender significantly predicted SNS game addiction(Zhou, 2010).
III. Research Questions
• What are the correlations between specific activities
occurred on SNSs and addictive tendencies?”
• Do young adults have perception about addiction of
• Do young adults have psychological dependence on
• What specific activities are young adults addicted to
when using SNSs?
• Through SNSs, users usually expect to acquire the satisfaction of interpersonal relatedness via
sharing their immediate thoughts and feelings like other kinds of internet addiction, their visits to
SNSs would be reinforced by positive outcomes through operant conditioning, and gradually an
addiction towards these sites might be developed (Chakraborty et.al, 2010).
• It seemed that especially in the case of social networking, users become overly concerned about
their image. Today it is not only about a very specific selection of photos; it’s all about the response
that would be obtained after placing a piece of information on the profile (Moreno et al, 2011).
• Based on the above studies, H1 and H2 are derived as follows,
• H1: The more response/comments the users received from their posting, the more addicted to SNSs
they will become.
• It was argued that in terms of the internet addiction sub-types developed by Young(1999) that social
networking addiction was a type of cyber-relationship addiction and people are addicted to the
rewards gained from interacting with people within their friendship networks (Kuss and Griffiths,
• H2: The more interaction the users have on virtual communication, the more addicted to SNSs they
• Quantitative research
• Online survey?
• Paper-based survey
• Demographic data:
• Age, Gender, School year Specific activities on SNSs
• Time spending on SNSs
• Frequency of updating status and posting on SNSs
• The survey main contents
• There are so many social networking sites in China, this study will mainly focus on the top four social networking sites in China: Tencent QZone, Tencent
Weibo, Sina Weibo and WeChat. There are few researches on these four SNSs; based on the research of Internet addiction and related researches
concerned with excessive use of SNSs, the study will create a descriptive survey consisted of mainly three sections.
• The first section will be demographic data about the target group-Chinese young adults;
• The second section will be question about their usage of SNSs and perception of addiction towards these SNSs;
• The third section will be specific questions related to components of behavioral addiction, which are pointed by Griffiths to determine behavioral
• Six components as we mentioned above are: mood modification, salience, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse.
• Since the target group is Chinese young adults, the survey will be conducted in Chinese and distributed to selected universities in China.
VI. Thesis Schedule
Jan. 16---April.4 Submission of Research Proposal.
April. 5---April.22 Design and Revise of Questionnaire.
April.22---April.30 Distribution of Survey and Collection
Writting of Literature Review
May.1---May.10 Data Analysis and writing of Methodology
May 11---June 21 Thesis Writting
• Anise M.S. Wu, Vivi I. Cheung, Lisbeth Ku, EVA. P.W Hung.(2013). Psychological risk
factors of addiction to social networking sites among Chinese Smartphone Users.
Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2(3): pp. 160-166.
• Boyd, D,M., Ellison, N.B.(2008). Social network sites: Definition, history, and
scholarship. J. Computer-Mediated Communication, 13: 210-230.
• Candy, Wan.(2009). Gratification & Loneliness as predictors of campus-SNS websites
addiction & usage pattern among Chinese college students, a graduation project, in
the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
• Chakraborty, K., Basu, D., Kumar, K.G.V.(2010). Internet addiction: Consensus,
controversies, and the way ahead. East Asian Archives of Psychiatry, 20: pp123-132.
• Daria J. Kuss, Mark D. Griffiths(2011). Online Social Networking and Addiction—A
Review of the Psychological Literature. International Journal of Environmental
Research and Public Health, 8: pp.3528-3552.
• Griffiths, MD.(2005). A ‘components’ model of addiction within a bio psychosocial
framework. Journal of Substance Use, 10(4): pp.191-197.
• VII. References
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