Selfies and other unhealthy social media use turns you into a narcissist

Using an image-focused social media platform like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat could be a contributing factor in increased narcissism within society. At least, that’s according to the findings of a new study.

In another case of science proving what people already assumed, a joint team from Swansea University and the University of Milan looked to understand the relationship between Problematic Internet Use (PUI) and narcissism in young people. The result: the“Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism” study, published in the Open Psychology Journal.

The study’s main aim was to find out if PUI caused narcissism, or if attempts to sate narcissistic tendencies is what drove PUI. The study concluded that the former was the case — extended and unhealthy usage of image-based social media platforms created and exacerbated narcissism.

The study examined seventy-four volunteers between the ages of 18 and 34, a quarter of whom were male, over a four-month period. Each completed a Narcissism Personality Inventory and a PUI Questionnaire before and after the study period. This information was used to explore the relationship each had with visual forms of social media.

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The results showed that excessive use of visual media, predominantly in posting selfies, prompted a whopping 25% average increase in narcissistic traits over the four-month period. This was only for visual social media, so predominantly text-based social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit aren’t as bad for you (at least as far as narcissism is concerned).

Between six and 18% of young people show some degree of PUI, which can manifest itself as internet addiction or with withdrawal symptoms when not using the internet. As the study suggests, using image-based social media while under the duress of PUI can have significant ramifications for personality and psychological traits.

The study calls for preventative measures to reduce the potential damages PUI and narcissistic usage of social media can cause. Since narcissism increases as self-esteem decreases, attempts to increase the esteem and self-image of young people, coupled with education as to the negative effects of PUI and sharing selfies on image-based social media, could help prevent young people developing narcissistic tendencies.

However, the possible damage selfies pose in regard to personality disorders is nothing compared to the real risk of fatality selfie-takers face in pursuing their “art”.

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