As the number of messages and social relationships embedded in social networking sites (SNS) increases, the amount of social information demanding a reaction from individuals increases as well. We observe that, as a consequence, SNS users feel they are giving too much social support to other SNS users. Drawing on social support theory (SST), we call this negative association with SNS usage ‘social overload’ and develop a latent variable to measure it. We then identify the theoretical antecedents and consequences of social overload and evaluate the social overload model empirically using interviews with 12 and a survey of 571 Facebook users. The results show that extent of usage, number of friends, subjective social support norms, and type of relationship (online-only vs offline friends) are factors that directly contribute to social overload while age has only an indirect effect. The psychological and behavioral consequences of social overload include feelings of SNS exhaustion by users, low levels of user satisfaction, and a high intention to reduce or even stop using SNS. The resulting theoretical implications for SST and SNS acceptance research are discussed and practical implications for organizations, SNS providers, and SNS users are drawn.
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We scanned the Senior Scholars' Basket of Journals with its eight journals (MISQ, ISR, JMIS, JAIS, EJIS, ISJ, JSIS, and JIT) for the period 2002–2013 using stress-, social support-, and SNS-related search terms. For the identified articles, we performed forward and backward search as proposed by Webster and Watson (2002).
Techno-complexity would be the correct answer for this item.
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This paper is dedicated to Ernst Maier, father of Christian Maier, who passed away on the day we submitted the revised version.
This paper has been amended owing to the omission of information relating to the presentation of an earlier version.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Barcelona, in June 2012 (Maier et al, 2012c).
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Maier, C., Laumer, S., Eckhardt, A. et al. Giving too much social support: social overload on social networking sites. Eur J Inf Syst 24, 447–464 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/ejis.2014.3
- IT continuance
- dark side of IT
- negative consequence of IT usage
- social media