Social-media use and self-esteem
Over the years, excessive use of social media has been widespread, and rapidly increased. Communication that used to be direct, either face to face or by speaking through a telephone, can now also be done without any physical or auditory contact, hereby taking away human interactions and replacing it by conversations through the use of technology. Countless hours a day are spent glued to devices such as phones and computers, to be able to acquire new information, communicate with others, or to share daily live stories. According to a study performed by Seo, Houston, Knight & Inglish (2014), the proportion of teens engaging in any form of media usage, with in particular Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, increased from 55 % in 2006 to 83 % in 2012. Moreover, another study showed that nowadays one third of the world’s population sees themselves as rather active on social media (Hawi & Samaha, 2016).
Facebook is hereby considered to be one of the most popular social media sites (Seo et al., 2014), and it is found that a great amount of adolescents nowadays tend to evaluate their own self-worth and popularity based on how many likes or positive reactions they get on their profile pictures on Facebook (Cookingham & Ryan, 2015). Additionally, Burrow & Rainone (2016) found that a positive feedback on Facebook should boost levels of self-esteem. Similar to this study, several other studies highlighted the importance to investigate the effects of social-media on self-esteem. In general, researchers define self-esteem as one’s assessment of their own self-worth (e.g. Lightfoot, Cole & Cole, 2009). A study conducted by Harter (1993) confirmed that self-esteem generally affects mood, and indicates that there are links between low self-esteem, depression, feelings of hopelessness and possibly even suicide. Furthermore, Hart (1993) found that low self-esteem can be linked to educational failure, vulnerability to peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, and eating disorders. Additionally, another study demonstrated that people with higher levels of self-esteem seem to be more active in posting status updates or new pictures, whereas those with lower levels of self-esteem are not very comfortable about sharing self-referent information (Tazghini & Siedlecki, 2013). Similarly, findings of Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten (2006) tell us that positive feedback on profiles enhanced adolescents’ social self-esteem and well-being while negative feedback decreased their self-esteem and well-being. Moreover, girls tend to show more online self-relevant social comparison which can be threatening to their self-worth and consequently could lead to higher levels of depression (Nesi & Prinstein, 2015). Also Best et al., (2014) found that spending a great amount of time on social media can increase the risk for both social isolation and depression. In other words, previous findings and most other studies on the relationship between social media and self-esteem have revealed that those who spend more time on social media generally report lower levels of self-esteem (Vogel, Rose, Okdie, Eckles, & Franz, 2015).
Many studies focused on the negative effects of social media on self-esteem, however there are also studies (e.g. Hamm et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2012) that found positive effects of social media. It is for example found that social media encourages healthy lifestyles such as healthy eating and going to the gym (Hamm et al., 2014). Also, there is found a positive relationship between some personality traits, such as extraversion, and comments that were posted on their social media, which could be beneficial to a persons social development (Wang, Jackson, Zhang, & Su, 2012). Furthermore, Joinson (2004) found that social media can boost the self-esteem among those who have social anxiety problems since communication through social media is considered as much easier for them compared to communicating face to face.
As to the development of self-esteem, Orth, Robins and Widaman, (2012) indicated that self-esteem follows a U-shaped process and increases throughout childhood whereafter it begins to decrease again during adolescence before rising again in adulthood. Therefore, it could be said that several findings emphasise that the amount of social-media usage in sensitive adolescent periods could have a major influence on their self-esteem levels. So far, research mainly focused on adolescents, however it is also interesting to investigate young adults’ social-media usage in relation to self-esteem. Furthermore, besides social-media, there are several other factors that could influence a person’s self-esteem levels, such as the education a child receives in the form of parenting styles. Luckily, some research has been done already to establish possible links between different parenting styles and self-esteem.
Parenting styles and self-esteem
In general, parenting styles can be referred as behaviors and strategies used by parents to control and socialize their children (Lightfoot, Cole & Cole, 2009). Parenting styles were originally observed by Diana Baumrind in the 1970’s whereafter she categorized it into three different parenting styles. First, authoritarian parents, try to control the behavior of their children in fixed standards, taking forceful measures to restrict children’s autonomy in case children disobey (Baumrind, 1968). Authoritarian parents usually pose absolute restrictions on most parts of their children’s lives. (Baumrind, 1968) Children of authoritarian parents, can usually be categorized as having an anxious, withdrawn and unhappy disposition. Also they show poor reactions to frustration, however do well in school, and are not likely to engage in antisocial activities. Obviously these characteristics are not similar in every child, meaning that individual differences always exist in children of each of the parenting styles.
Second, in contrast, parents with permissive parenting, are not as demanding as authoritarian parents, and have rather loose limits (Baumrind 1968), In other words, as much as possible autonomy is given to their children. Children raised by permissive parents, are often able to make decisions independently, are allowed to freely explore environments and self-discipline limits. However, children are known for having an under regulated, poor, emotion regulation. Also they become rather rebellious and defiant in case desires are challenged, engage more in antisocial behaviors and have low persistence to challenging tasks (Baumring, 1968). As mentioned before, these characteristics are not similar in all children and individual differences exist.
Third and finally, the more reasonable, ‘ideal’ parenting style that lies between previous two extremes is called authoritative parenting. Authoritative parents actively take responsibility, supervise their children, and set reasonable consistent demands and limits. Furthermore, authoritative parents are considered open to negotiation and communication (Baumrind, 1968). Children raised by authoritative parents are stimulated to make their own choices in reasonable boundaries of their parents, usually have a lively and happy disposition, are self-confident about their ability to master tasks, have a well developed emotion regulation and have developed social skills (Baumrind, 1968).
Baumrind followed a sort of psychoanalytical movement which is based on the idea that parenting styles could influence several different outcomes later in life (Baumrind, 1973). However, it is still unclear whether parenting style influences the child or the other way around. For instance, in the case of autism, parents sometimes adapt their parenting style to the child’s behavior (reference), which indicates that parenting is not just a specific characteristic of the parents, however it is rather based on parent-child interaction.
Consequently of Baumrind’s research, Maccoby and Martin reassessed the three styles of parenting in 1983. Hereby they transferred Baumrind’s findings, however also added demandingness and responsiveness as measures. They now concluded that there are more parenting styles than Baumrind described, since the permissive style ended up to be divided into two different parenting techniques when considering observed levels of demandingness and responsiveness. This resulted in an extra neglecting label. Consequently, four parenting styles have widely been acknowledged to exist; authoritative (high on demandingness and responsiveness), authoritarian (high on demandingness, low on responsiveness), permissive (low on demandingness, high on responsiveness), and neglecting (low on both responsiveness and demandingess) (Maccoby & Martin, 1983).
Research later by Steinberg et al. (1994) supports these four dimensions. Also, their research showed that children with authoritative parents were more competent than children that grew up with other parenting styles, in academic, social and emotional abilities. Furthermore children with authoritarian parenting styles demonstrated lower levels of well being compared to children with other parenting styles, and children with indulgent parents showed high levels of well being, but lower levels of achievement. Also, Steinberg et al. (1994) found that children with neglectful parents showed the lowest levels in all areas. Results of this study show that there is a true connection between parenting styles and personal qualities of children.
Other research done by Grusec et al. (1994) and Pomerantz et al. (2005) found similar results, namely that children from authoritative parents show more proficient social skills, independent problem solving, adjustment and psychological well being when compared to children raised by parents that practiced other styles of parenting. On the other hand, several findings indicate that inconsistent parenting can be related to aggressive and antisocial behavior (e.g Lightfoot, Cole & Cole, 2009), and other studies have shown that bonding, sensitivity and responsiveness qualities in a parent are most important to the child’s successful development and the disciplinary characteristic is the least important (e.g. Shamah, 2011). Adolescents that receive high levels of parental support and behavior monitoring have better health and are more adequate compared to adolescents that don’t have these high levels of parental support (Bean et al., 2003).
In general, as to parenting styles influences on self-esteem, Hosogi et al., (2012) found that there appears to be a correlation between higher or lower levels of global self-esteem in children and certain parenting styles. Additionally another study suggests more precisely that nurturing and supportive parenting styles could improve children’s self-esteem (Yang & Liang, 2008). However, there has been some contradiction among previous studies. For instance, Martínez and García (2007) found that children of indulgent parents had the highest levels of self-esteem while children of authoritarian parents had the lowest. Similarly, the same Martínez and García conducted another study in 2008 which indicated that adolescents with indulgent parents had equal or higher levels of self-esteem than adolescents with authoritative parenting, whereas adolescents with authoritarian and neglectful parents had the lowest levels of self-esteem. Contradictory to these findings, another study conducted by Garcia and Gracia (2009) indicated that both the children of indulgent parenting style as well as the authoritative parenting styles had the highest levels of self-esteem. Similarly, research indicated that authoritative and indulgent parents’ children scored highest on levels of self-esteem (Martínez, García & Yubero, 2007). These findings show that there is some disparity in the research field, which necessitates for new studies to be conducted to confirm or deny previous findings.
Furthermore, research has been done on the influence of specific qualities of parents on self-esteem, and it is concluded that the quality of supportiveness of the parents as perceived by the child leads to higher levels of implicit self-esteem, whereas neglecting parenting would lead to lower levels of self-esteem (Antonopoulou, Alexopoulos & Maridaki- Kassotaki, 2012). Similarly in another study, parents who were recognized as more nurturing (authoritative and permissive) had a positive effect on their children’s self-esteem, while parents perceived to be overprotective (authoritarian) had a negative effect (DeHart, Pelham & Tennen, 2006). Additionally emotional warmth (authoritative and permissive) has been positively correlated with higher levels of self-esteem, while negative loving, rejecting and anger (more pronounced in authoritarian parenting style) were negatively correlated with higher levels of self-esteem (Yang & Zhou, 2008).