Studies Show A Sharp Increase in Narcissism Among Teens Who Use Social Media

Recent studies have indicated a sharp increase in narcissism, self-promotional and anti-social behavior among teens who use social media frequently, especially Facebook and Instagram.

One study by Christopher Carpenter in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that rates of narcissism and self-promotional behavior increased with the increased use of Facebook.

In the United States, diagnoses of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have risen sharply over the past 10 years, according to the Guardian. The rate is comparable to the rise in the rate of obesity, the Guardian reports, citing the text “The Case Against Democracy” by Steven Michels.

Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, has published extensively on the topic and found correlations between excessive use of Facebook and bad grades, poor health and anti-social personality disorders, including narcissism.

Rosen found that students who use Facebook more throughout the day are more prone to mental health problems and tend to be sick more often than peers who use social media less frequently.

In another study, Rosen observed the study habits of 279 middle school, high school and university students in 15-minute blocks. He recorded how long each student spent studying before he or she checked Facebook or paused to send a text message to a friend. Students who flipped back and forth between studying and such distractions had worse grades than those who stuck to their schoolwork until they were finished, Rosen said.

“Whether they checked Facebook just one time during a 15-minute observation period even predicted worse grades,” Rosen said.

However, researchers Amy L. Gonzales and Jeffrey T. Hancock found that active social media users are far more likely to have enhanced self-esteem and a greater sense of well-being than their peers that only moderately or rarely use social media. Furthermore, social media appears to be an outlet for many with low self-esteem, depression or eccentric interests to connect with others more easily and without judgment.

Some researchers, such as Bruce McKinney at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, argue that these behaviors are not as narcissistic as once thought and could be the “new norm.”

Because Facebook use is so common among teens and was developed specifically to help them (and others) share within their social circles, these behaviors may just be associated with a new form of communication in this generation.

McKinney suggests that we shouldn’t define teenagers as universally narcissistic, but rather, we should “redefine narcissism and narcissistic traits so it includes social media usage.”

For more on this topic, view this story in Edudemic or this story in the Guardian.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].