Pathological Use and Dependence on Social Networks — Analysis From the Position of Phenomenology of Addictive Behavior



The article summarizes current foreign and Russian literature regarding the pathological use and dependence on social networks, with an emphasis on similarities and differences of this phenomenon from other types of addictive behavior on the Internet. The confirmation that social media addiction is an independent disorder is presented in the review. The variations of Internet addiction relate primarily to the effects of social interactions. However, at the same time, the similarities with other electronic addictions (for example, to a smartphone, the Internet, network games, etc.) have been confirmed in many different studies. The excessive use of social media is often associated with other behavioral addictions, such as food addiction, shopping, gaming, as well as with some other psychological health problems (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, etc.). The most frequently mentioned personality factors associated with dependence on social media are increased neuroticism, extroversion, decreased conscientiousness, as well as a tendency to highly emotional communication, sometimes adventurism and a demonstration of posturing and narcissism. The Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS) and the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) have been developed in Denmark for diagnosing pathological behavior in social networks. Both tests were adapted in many countries and are increasingly used for scientific purposes. These scales presumably will help to clarify the prevalence of this kind of dependence in various age groups and objectify its associations with other types of addictive behavior, mental health disorders, and personality traits.

General Information

Keywords: social networks, addiction, BFAS, BSMAS, electronic addictions, pathological use, Internet

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Zotova D.V., Rozanov V.A. Pathological Use and Dependence on Social Networks — Analysis From the Position of Phenomenology of Addictive Behavior. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2020. Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 158–183. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2020.204. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Daria V. Zotova, Postgraduate Student, St. Petersburg State University, National Medical Research Center for Psychiatry and Neurology V. M. Bekhtereva, Junior Researcher, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:

Vsevolod A. Rozanov, Doctor of Medicine, Professor of the Department of Health Psychology and Deviant Behavior of the Faculty of Psychology, St. Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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