Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Editors: Marc Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Social Networking Sites

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_101953-1



Social networking sites, sometimes characterized under the umbrella term social media, are virtual communities or networks that allow individuals, communities, and organizations to create and disseminate user-generated content including but not limited to pictures, videos, text, memes, and profile pages for individuals or groups; social media content has greater virality than other web-based content. By connecting a user’s profile (maintained by the social media organization) to other individuals or groups, social networks are formed. Well-known social media sites include Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. When social networking sites were first popularized, the average users were emerging adults, but now users represent a wide range of ages, races, and places of residence.


Social media encompasses all online platforms on which media content is uploaded, and social networking sites are...

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References and Further Readings

  1. Balatsoukas, P., & Kennedy, C. M. (2015). The role of social network technologies in online health promotion: A narrative review of theoretical and empirical factors influencing intervention effectiveness. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(6), e141. doi:10.2196/jmir.3662.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Cheung, Y. T. D., Chan, C. H. H., Lai, C. K. J., Chan, W. F. V., Wang, M. P., Li, H. C. W., Chan, S. S. C., & Lam, T. H. (2015). Using whatsapp and facebook online social groups for smoking relapse prevention for recent quitters: A pilot pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(10), e238. doi:10.2196/jmir.4829.Google Scholar
  3. Dagan, N., & Beskin, D. (2015). Effects of social network exposure on nutritional learning: Development of an online educational platform. JMIR Serious Games, 3(2), e7. doi:10.2196/games.4002.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Eysenbach, G., Powell, J., Englesakis, M., Rizo, C., & Stern, A. (2004). Health related virtual communities and electronic support groups: Systematic review of the effects of online peer to peer interactions. British Medical Journal, 328(7449), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gruzd, A., & Haythornthwaite, C. (2013). Enabling community through social media. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(10), e248. doi:10.2196/jmir.2796.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Luhmann, C. C., & Rajaram, S. (2015). Memory transmission in small groups and large networks: An agent-based model. Psychological Science, 26(12), 1909–1917. doi:10.1177/0956797615605798.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Maher, C. A., Lewis, L. K., Ferrar, K., Marshall, S., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., & Vandelanotte, C. (2014). Are health behavior change interventions that use online social networks effective? A systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(2), e40. doi:10.2196/jmir.2952.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Pagoto, S., Waring, M. E., May, C. N., Ding, E. Y., Kunz, W. H., Hayes, R., & Oleski, J. L. (2016). Adapting behavioral interventions for social media delivery. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(1), e24. doi:10.2196/jmir.5086.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Pew Research Center. (2015a). Teens, social media and technology overview 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-.technology-2015/
  10. Pew Research Center. (2015b). The smartphone difference. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
  11. Pew Research Center. (2015c). Technology device ownership: 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/
  12. Seymour, B., Getman, R., Saraf, A., Zhang, L. H., & Kalenderian, E. (2015). When advocacy obscures accuracy online: Digital pandemics of public health misinformation through an antifluoride case study. American Journal of Public Health, 105(3), 517–523. doi:10.2105/ajph.2014.302437.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Turner-McGrievy, G. M., & Beets, M. W. (2015). Tweet for health: Using an online social network to examine temporal trends in weight loss-related posts. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 5(2), 160–166. doi:10.1007/s13142-015-0308-1.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Weight Control and Diabetes Research CenterThe Miriam HospitalProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Kent State UniversityKentUSA