Role of social anxiety on high engagement and addictive behavior in the context of social networking sites

Wen Shan Lin*, Hong Ren Chen, Tony Szu Hsieh Lee, Joyce Yen Feng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to tackle the problem of technology addiction by investigating the differences between the antecedences of addictive (problematic technology usage) and high-engagement behavior (non-problematic technology usage). The case of social networking site usage (SNS, e.g. Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) is taken as the case out of the reason of prevalent user population. Design/methodology/approach: It is revealed that people tend to use SNS not only for building a relationship, but also for communicating. In other words, there are inner needs of adopting the SNS technology. However, no clear definitions can be followed for determining the problematic SNS usage, addictive behavior and the high-engagement behavior. Therefore, this study adopts the notion of uses and gratification theory (U&G theory) for investigating the SNS usage behavior. Also, the social anxiety is also first introduced to integrate into the research for an empirical study. Findings: Results reveal that gratification sought and relationship maintenance are associated with the addictive behavior, whereas the relationship maintenance is significantly related to high-engagement behavior. Research limitations/implications: First, the selected data represents a sample of SNW users in the Asian Pacific region and mainly from the group of young college users. Therefore, caution must be taken when generalizing the findings to other SNW users or groups. Second, the time aspect related to social media dependence may need to be considered in future studies. Third, the authors found marginal support for the influence of intentions of high engagement¸ and future studies may consider applying other theories that could better explain these types of behavior. Practical implications: The results of this study provide strong evidence that inner anxiety perceived by users should not be neglected while tackling the problematic internet use due to SNW addiction because it can strengthen the force for depending on SNW for seeking social support. Apart from the value of perceived enjoyment as asserted in previous studies, this study opens up a new opportunity to tackle SNW dependence. Social implications: The key implication of this research is that the impact of the mental health of users on SNW problematic should not be overlooked. The higher the level of anxiety perceived, the more likely is the SNW dependence. Therefore, the online behavior depending on psychological health should be addressed because it may be a critical point for assisting users to adopt SNW wisely. Originality/value: This study confirms that social anxiety people experience in real (offline) life has impacts on online behavior of SNS usage (online). It suggests that the difference between users as the perceived level of social anxiety can trigger different levels of SNS usage. Second, U&G theory is proven valid in understanding SNS addiction. Third, relationship maintenance through the use of SNS reveals its dissimilar effects on SNS addiction and high engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-170
Number of pages15
JournalData Technologies and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 7


  • High engagement
  • Internet addiction
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Social anxiety
  • Social networking site
  • Uses and gratification theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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