The dark side of ubiquitous connectivity

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are often referred as the ‘Swiss pocketknives’ of today’s individual, as they serve a range of needs, activities and purposes. Along with the rapid spread of smartphones, smartphone-based Social Networking Service (SNS) has penetrated into our daily lives by allowing people to maintain close and intimate relationships with others as well as to keep in touch with each other anytime and anywhere, leading to ubiquitous connectivity.

Based on protection motivation and information processing theory, Wei Gao and his colleagues explored the dark side of ubiquitous connectivity enabled by smartphone-based SNS. Protection motivation theory is often used to predict individual’s protective intentions and behaviours. In this study, the researchers employ protection motivation theory to understand the measures that smartphone-based SNS users adopt to prevent information leakage caused by ubiquitous connectivity. Information processing theory mainly focuses on cognitive process and  how individuals process information. Information processing theory is employed here to understand the information overload received by smartphone-based SNS users.

Through an online survey of SNS users, the researchers showed that ubiquitous connectivity induces privacy concerns, which leads users to use protection behaviours such as discontinuous usage of smartphone-based SNS. In this sense, ubiquitous connectivity can lead to information overload, which results in SNS exhaustion and also leads to discontinuous usage. This kind of usage appears to be a copying strategy adopted by smartphone-based users to avoid information leakage and information overload in the context of SNS.

This article leaves some cues to explore for future research but also provides some clues for SNS providers as to offer better protection measures to their users such as better abilities to select and filter information.

Cite: Gao, W. Liu, Z. Guo, Q. and Li, X.(2018). The dark side of ubiquitous connectivity in smartphone-based SNS: An integrated model from information perspective. Computers in human behavior, 84, 185-193.