Motivational processes and dysfunctional mechanisms of social media use among adolescents: a qualitative focus group study

Throuvala, M.A. ORCID: 0000-0003-4617-5263, Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, Rennoldson, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-7131-8740 and Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X, 2019. Motivational processes and dysfunctional mechanisms of social media use among adolescents: a qualitative focus group study. Computers in Human Behavior, 93, pp. 164-175. ISSN 0747-5632

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Childhood and adolescent experiences have undergone a major transition in interaction with digital technologies since the advent of smartphones. Following a needs assessment study, adolescent online uses and motivations for social networking site use were explored. Six focus groups (comprising 42 adolescent students of secondary schools in the UK) were recruited. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Six motivational themes emerged from the analysis, reflecting interactivity and need for control of content and relationships, exhibiting the dynamic nature of engagement with social networking sites: (i) symbiotic relationship with peers online via social media and smartphone attachment, (ii) digital omnipresence related to the need for control and loss of control, (iii) emotional regulation and enhancement, (iv) idealization versus normalization of self and others, (v) peer comparison and ego validation, and (vi) functionality - facilitation of communication functions. These findings offer an understanding of the key drivers of normative adolescent social media behaviour that go beyond the theoretical associations with Uses and Gratifications Theory and Self-Determination Theory, suggesting an additional alternative motivational factor for social media use, that of need to control relationships, content, presentation and impressions. This need may be underlying FoMO and nomophobia and could therefore be responsible for increasing engagement or compulsive use. These findings shed light on cognitive-emotive aspects that may be implicated in problematic use and may inform interventions targeting excessive or problematic screen time and specific social media use aspects that merit scientific attention.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Computers in Human Behavior
Creators: Throuvala, M.A., Griffiths, M.D., Rennoldson, M. and Kuss, D.J.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: April 2019
Volume: 93
ISSN: 0747-5632
S0747563218305983Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Dec 2018 16:38
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2019 03:00

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