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How Facebook, Twitter make you overspend

How Facebook, Twitter make you overspend

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Finances are going awry? Can partly blame it on Facebook and Twitter.

Using online social networks can lower your self-control, leading to overeating and overspending, a new study claims.

Researchers said participating in on-line social networks can have a detrimental effect on consumer well-being by lowering self-control.

"Using online social networks can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well-being. However, these increased feelings of self-worth can have a detrimental effect on behaviour," said researchers Keith Wilcox from Columbia University and Andrew T Stephen from University of Pittsburgh.

"Because consumers care about the image they present to close friends, social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem leads them to display less self-control after browsing a social network," researchers said.

Online social networks are having a fundamental impact on society. Facebook, the largest, has over one billion active users, researchers said.

A series of interesting studies showed that Facebook usage lowers self-control for consumers who focus on close friends while browsing their social network.

Specifically, consumers focused on close friends are more likely to choose an unhealthy snack after browsing Facebook due to enhanced self-esteem, researchers said.

They said greater Facebook use was associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt for consumers with many close friends in their social network.

"These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere anytime via smartphones and other gadgets," researchers said.

"Given that self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being, this subtle effect could have widespread impact.

"This is particularly true for adolescents and young adults who are the heaviest users of social networks and have grown up using social networks as a normal part of their daily lives," the researchers concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Story first published on: December 12, 2012 18:20 (IST)

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