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Can mindfulness boost self-esteem for social media addicts?

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Writing in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, a team from the Dayalbagh Educational Institute in Agra, India, have taken the view that social media addiction is a growing problem worth examination in a serious medical context and have shown that mindfulness might be used to improve user self-esteem even if those users continue in their extensive use of such online tools.

Terms such as "addiction" and "dependency" have specific definitions in medicine but are often used more broadly in discussions of behavior that may be problematic but do not necessarily meet the clinical criteria for addiction. However, there is evidence of problematic behavior among many individuals who utilize social on their computers and mobile devices.

Kajul Bharti and Akshay Kumar Satsangi suggest that this type of addiction is already leading to serious concerns about the well-being and mental health of many social media users. The team reports on a study involving 288 participants who were selected by snowball sampling. Snowball sampling, often referred to as chain sampling, chain-referral sampling, or referral , involves initial recruits to a trial or study recruiting future subjects from among their acquaintances. While the approach can suffer from biases because of the way the sample builds up, it is commonly used in sociology research of hidden populations, such as or sex workers, and in this case, social media addicts, because it is usually very difficult to recruit people from such groups randomly.

These findings have important implications for social media users and society as a whole and emphasize once more the need for further research in this area. The team points out that the concepts of , being present in the moment, , or recognizing one's own worth, are both that might influence how social media addiction could affect psychological outcomes for users.

The researchers used confirmatory factor analysis and path analysis to analyze the results from their snowball sample. They found that social media addiction does indeed have a direct impact on self-esteem, regardless of whether a person is aware of mindfulness or not. However, mindfulness can have a partially mediating effect and so is a recommended practice to reduce any negative impacts of social media addiction on self-esteem.

The team adds that future work should adopt a cross-sectional design to provide further evidence that mindfulness can overcome the problems of social media . Mindfulness, the team suggests, can free up one's thoughts regarding such behavior so that while one might continue to be a frequent user of social media there is less detrimental impact on one's mental well-being and self-esteem as one can become better equipped to shrug off the pressures of online peers and influencers. Ultimately, for users with a problem, mindfulness could be used to allow them to control their use rather than it controlling them.

More information: Akshay Kumar Satsangi et al, Role of social media addiction on self-esteem and mediating effect of mindfulness, International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy (2023). DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2022.10053345

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