The Role of Social Comparison and Online Social Support in Social Media Addiction Mediated by Self-Esteem and Loneliness
Bettina  F. PIKÓContact / Kontakt / Kapcsolat, Hedvig KISS, Alice HARTMANN, Csaba HAMVAI & Kevin M. FITZPATRICK
EJMH Vol 19, e0019 (2024) 1-11; https://doi.org/10.5708/EJMH.19.2024.0019
Received: 17 October 2023; Accepted: 25 March 2024; Online: 16 May 2024
Section: Research Papers
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Abstract

Introduction: The diversity of information on social media provides a ubiquitous possibility for social comparison. Online social comparisons have both detrimental and beneficial effects; besides lowering one’s self-esteem, heightening loneliness and addiction, they also bring together people with similar interests which may offer a form of social support.

Aims: This study examines a path model for understanding the link between social comparison and social media addiction while examining online social support, loneliness, and self-esteem.

Methods: Hungarian university students (N = 201, 70.6% women, aged between 18 and 30 years, SD = 2.77) completed an online survey in the spring of 2022.

Results: The final path model suggests that social comparison can directly contribute to social media addiction. This link was mediated by loneliness and self-esteem, resulting in a path with different outcomes: a) social comparison may strengthen loneliness (β = .22, p < .001) which can lead to lower self-esteem (β = .60, p < .001), and b) social comparison may have a negative effect on self-esteem (β = -.22, p < .001) which can reduce social media addiction (β = -.26, p < .001). In addition, social comparison may help obtain online social support (β = .15, p < .050) which can reduce loneliness (β = -.41, p < .001) but increase the likelihood of addiction (β = .26, p < .001).

Conclusions: These findings draw attention to the double-edged sword of social comparison and online social support: we need to learn to consciously manage online social comparison tendencies.

Keywords

social comparison, online social support, social media addiction, loneliness, self-esteem

Corresponding author

Bettina F. PIKÓ

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary

fuzne.piko.bettina@med.u-szeged.hu

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3072-9615

Co-authors

Hedvig KISS

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4875-4891

Alice HARTMANN

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary

Csaba HAMVAI

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6589-826X

Kevin M. FITZPATRICK

Department of Sociology & Criminology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8802-1142

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