The findings showed that when there is an imbalance between two cognitive-behavioural systems in the human brain, there is a higher rate of problematic use of social networking sites.
While System 1 is automatic and reactive, quickly triggered, often subconsciously, in reaction to stimulus such as a sight of or notifications from social media, System 2 is a reflective, reasoning system that moves more slowly, regulates cognitions and controls behaviours, according to Hamed Qahri-Saremi, assistant professor at DePaul University.
The second system can help individuals control impulses and behaviours that are not in their best interest, he added.
For the study, detailed in the Journal of Management Information Systems, the team obtained responses from 341 undergraduate college students from a North American university who use Facebook.
The results showed that individuals who displayed higher levels of problematic use of Facebook had a strong cognitive-emotional preoccupation (system 1) and a weak cognitive-behavioural control (system 2), creating an imbalance.
In fact, the greater the imbalance between the two systems, the more likely individuals were to engage in problematic social media use behaviours, the researchers said.
In addition, this problematic use of Facebook also negatively affected the students’ academic performance. The higher the problematic use, the lower was the GPA score.
“A slight increase in problematic social media use translates into significant grade loss, and this declined performance is persistent,” added Ofir Turel from California State University.