Social networking’s peril: Cognitive absorption, social networking usage, and depression


Social networking has become commonplace in today’s always-connected world. Due to this ubiquity, researchers have sought to explore the positive and negative effects that can result from usage of social networking. This research has shown many effects on an individual's psychological well-being, with one of the most concerning being mixed results of how usage relates to depression. In this study, we further examine the relationship between usage and depression for social networking users. In addition, we posit that aspects of cognitive absorption, namely temporal dissonance, focused immersion, and heightened enjoyment, have a direct effect on the amount of usage. A survey of 251 social networking users reveals that temporal dissociation and heightened enjoyment are associated with increased usage, and usage was found to be associated with greater levels of depression. Further, prior research has shown a significant difference between genders in Internet usage and social networking. Therefore, we report our findings as an overall analysis and as a gender-based between-groups analysis. This analysis shows that more variance is explained for females than males in most relationships. Implications for research and society are discussed along with future research directions.

Social networking; depression; cognitive absorption; gender differences; PLS
Author biographies

Stoney Brooks

Stoney Brooks is an Assistant Professor in the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University. Stoney received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from Washington State University. Stoney’s research is published in Communications of the AIS, Computers in Human Behavior, at the prestigious Americas Conference on Information Systems, and in Green Business Process Management: Towards the Sustainable Enterprise from Springer. Stoney is actively researching negative effects of technology usage, social media, and green IS.

Phil Longstreet

Phil Longstreet is an Assistant Professor at University of Michigan-Flint, School of Management. Phil received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from Washington State University. Phil’s notable industry experience includes working as a Director of Technology for Cagnor Homes Inc., and Manager of Quality Assurance at Workscape Inc. Phil’s research has been published in Technology and Society and at prestigious conferences including Americas Conference on Information Systems and the Hawaii International Conference for System Sciences. Phil is actively researching in e-commerce visual appeal, computer self-efficacy, social media and technostress.

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