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Social Media May Provide Escape In Some Countries

Social Media May Provide Escape In Some CountriesNew international research suggests participation in online social media can reduce suicide rates, especially in countries rife with corruption.

Researchers hypothesize that social media provides citizens an escape from the everyday problems that dominate corrupt countries.

In the new study, to be published in the International Journal of Web-based Communities, investigators determined that these two factors — more corruption, more social networking — also correlate with lower suicide rates.

Adam Acar, M.S., associate professor at Japan’s Kobe City University, reports that more than half the population of developed countries is now active on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The vast majority of users are English speakers, but research suggests that the adoption of so-called Web 2.0 of which these sites are part is widespread across the globe.

Indeed, it has been suggested that the use of social networking is almost culture-independent, partly because the interfaces to the online systems do not, on the whole, reflect cultural boundaries.

“Culture is directly related to country-level social media use which may also be related with country-level self-esteem, pace-of-life, happiness, suicide rates, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, median age, and corruption,” Acar said.

“In countries where people use social media heavily there is low suicide, high corruption, low GDP, high self-esteem, and high respect for traditions.

“At the same time societies with low social media use rates tend to be older, less emotionally expressive, less happy, score low on openness and conscientiousness, have higher GDP, and higher social capital.”

However, Acar is concerned with the idea that of the almost two billion people now using online social networks and social media, the likelihood is that there are indeed cultural differences in adoption, use and motivation in different parts of the world.

Acar has carried out a statistical analysis of the large database represented by the comScore report “It’s a Social World.” The database was published at the end of 2011 and contains a wealth of information on social media activity, region, age, gender, income, and other factors.

The data analysis suggests that, fundamentally, there are indeed cultural differences across the globe in social media use.

“We found that there are low levels of suicide, more happiness, and more corruption in societies that use social media heavily,” Acar said. He points out that these correlations do not imply a link, just that there are observed differences in behavior.

“We do not speculate that social media increases happiness, openness, national self-esteem, and corruption,” he said. “By the same token we do not claim that social media use reduces suicides.”

Nevertheless, one might extrapolate from the data analysis to posit a testable hypothesis that the presence of higher levels of corruption might lead to lower levels of life happiness and feelings of personal security and that social media use acts an escape or a distraction from these.

The author also points out that nation-level self-esteem is an important factor influencing social media use. Israel has the highest nation-level self-esteem and spends the most time on online social networking, while Japan has the lowest nation-level self-esteem and spends the least time on online social networking.

Source: AlphaGalileo

Woman using social media photo by shutterstock.

Social Media May Provide Escape In Some Countries

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Social Media May Provide Escape In Some Countries. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 10 Feb 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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