The Dark Side of Engaging With Social Networking Sites (SNS)

The Dark Side of Engaging With Social Networking Sites (SNS)

Eileen O'Donnell (Technological University Dublin, Ireland) and Liam O'Donnell (Technological University Dublin, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch042
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Although social networking sites (SNS) may have some positive aspects, for example, connecting family members and friends who no longer live close enough to each other to meet in person, or for connecting people with similar health conditions who may need the support of others who understand and can manage the condition, or for groups of people with similar interests to engage and plan events and activities, there are also some possible negative aspects of engaging with SNS, for example, addiction or addictive behaviour, child pornography, cyberbullying, fake news, fear of missing out (FOMO), social comparisons, stalking, amongst many others, which can all lead to neglect of other duties, sleep deprivation, loneliness, isolation, depression, and so forth. The possible negative effects of engaging with SNS on the surface web will perhaps be also relevant to users of the deep and dark web. This article explores the dark side of social networking sites.
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“It is increasingly observable that social media present enormous risks for individuals, communities, firms, and even for society as a whole” (Baccarella, Wagner, Kietzmann, & McCarthy, 2018, p. 431). Now that we as a society are aware of the possible dangers posed by social media, it is time to address all of these potential risks with individuals, communities, organisations, and so forth. By identifying and highlighting these risks and through ensuring that individuals, communities, and organisations are made aware of these risks, only then will it be possible to successfully deal with such risks. “Even with social media executives admitting that their platforms have deleterious impacts, users tend not to question the short- and long-term implications and potential risks of their choices” (Baccarella et al., 2018, p. 432). Users should be encouraged to question the short and long term risks of engaging with SNS. This is a discussion in which all members of society should engage, not just parents and school teachers. Many adults are experiencing problems as a result of excessive engagement with SNS. This paper reviews some of the negative effects of engaging with SNS on the habits (addiction and addictive behaviour, exposure to child pornography, cyberbullying) and mental health (fake news, fear of missing out, social comparisons, stalking) of users. In addition, users are encouraged to consider how their use of SNS may be impacting the lives of others (family members, work colleagues, and other online users).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Stalking: A person’s location may be tracked without their knowledge or permission through the use of technology, by someone who is interested in their whereabouts or someone who holds a grudge; therefore, it is an invasion of personal privacy, ethically unacceptable, and potentially a safety threat.

Dark Web: The dark web refers to a number of anonymously hosted websites on the deep web which are accessible by using specialized software to hide the internet protocol (IP) address.

Cyberbullying: A form of bullying that occurs online.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Some people are afraid to go offline in case they miss out on some exciting piece of news.

Addiction or Addictive Behaviour: Actions which a person can no longer control. Someone may go online to send an e-mail, get distracted and remain online for several hours, and possibly forget to send the e-mail.

IP Address: IP addresses are assigned to every device that connects to the internet.

Fake News: The spreading of untrue facts online or through Social Networking Sites that may influence readers’ opinions, voting choices, and election outcomes.

Virtual private network (VPN): A virtual private network (VPN) provides a means of connecting to a network within an organisation (as if you were inside the organisation) even though you are not physically present.

social networking sites: Social networking sites (SNS) enable users to interact with other people online; similar to how people may socially interact offline by sharing personal experiences, images, making plans, and so forth.

Social Comparisons: As a result of using social networking sites some people may get the impression that other users are leading better lives in comparison to their own.

Child Pornography: Online sharing of content which shows the sexual exploitation of children.

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