The unstoppable evolution of Internet has generated new social, economic, cultural and psychological consequences. This constantly makes tools and techniques of psychology studies obsolete. Psychologists barely have previous references to base researches on new psychopathologies so far this century.
Social Networks: ingrained in our culture
Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Linkedin are concepts sufficiently established in our popular culture and easily identifiable by the public. The number of social networks users grows exponentially, under the shadow of larger social networks such as Facebook. Furthermore, there is a rising trend towards specialization. This gave rise to social networks designed to share photos (Instagram), videos (YouTube), to expand Networking (Linkedin), to encourage social relations (Badoo) and so on.
Javier Gallego Gómez (member of the Official College of Psychology from Andalucia Oriental) states in an article published in the student newspaper Aula Magna, that a new disorder associated to Internet is being discussed to be considered a new pathology: the ‘Internet Addiction Disorder’ (IAD). Whatever the experts decide, it is clear that Internet and social networks are related to addictive and compulsive behaviours. Social, labour and personal spheres might be disrupted facing complicated situations such as being laid off from work, dropping out of school or going through separation processes.
‘Likes’ and self-control
The success of social networks lies on the social aspect. In other words, the more ‘Likes’ you get, the more social recognition; the more social recognition, the higher probabilities to repeat the action of posting any aspect of social life. So this may interfere in the capacity of self-control, turning into an unhealthy habit and even affecting other priorities in life.
Overstimulation is another characteristic of social networks. The demands on responses ‘just in time’ by other users are shortened and it requires a constant query and update of social networks. This overstimulation can cause deficit of attention over other processes, also a lack of concentration and anxiety due to the inability to control the required information at the right time. Moreover, advertisements flowing in our social network push our purchasing decisions compulsively that in some cases can produce frustration.
Social networks are powerful tools that serve as vehicles for attaining social support much more easily that the real world. These networks enhance a lack of inhibition with other people, especially when the identity is anonymous, what favours the creation of fake personalities. In this way, individuals are reinventing themselves, covering psychological needs not faced yet and masking personal insecurities to look forward to recognition and power.
Translated and edited by Ana Escaso Moreno