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Impact of Social Media on the Self-Esteem of Young Adults in the UAE (Thesis Proposal Sample)


This task was a thesis proposal on the effects of social media on the self-esteem of young adults in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The proposal established the background of the study (including statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, and hypothesis). It also reviewed the existing literature on the subject, and the research methodology. A research plan was also developed regarding the planned timeframes of each stage of the proposed research study.


Impact of Social Media on the Self-Esteem of Young Adults in the UAE
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1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background
In the last decade, social networking sites have gained immense popularity, a phenomenon that has left long-lasting impacts on people. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and TikTok have amassed billions of users worldwide. The major driver of the growth of social networks has been the desire to conveniently engage in communication and share content with friends and family (Harris & Orth, 2020). Much like in the rest of the world, social media has become a part of the daily lives of a majority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) population. Out of a total population of 9.83 million, 9.73 million people in the UAE are active social media users (Haziq, 2021). This represents a social media usage of 98.98%. The three most visited social media sites are YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram respectively. The tremendous growth of social media in the Emirates is attributable to a high mobile phone penetration (92%) due to falling smartphone prices, increased prevalence of fast and relatively cheap internet connectivity (Haziq, 2021).
Young adults in the UAE are the demographic with the highest internet and social media use. A majority of young people access social media daily and have an average of four social media platforms. As opposed to the older adults who use social networking sites mainly for communication and news’ sharing, young people have embraced social media as a way of connecting with their peers, expressing and sharing content, reinvent their personalities, form a sense of self-identity, and showcase their social lives (Bozoglan et al., 2013). Young adults in tertiary institutions often use social media for education and research, searching for employment opportunities, as well as engaging in casual online relationships (Jan et al., 2017).
With the extensive and rapid evolution of media, the number of media platforms available is growing, a dynamic that has a significant impact on the development, interactions, and self-esteem of young adults in the UAE. Self-esteem refers to the overall positive evaluation of oneself. It comprises two distinct dimensions, worth and competence. On the one hand, the worth dimension is the degree to which a person feels they are persons of value and on the other hand, the competence dimension is the level to which individuals perceive themselves as efficacious and capable (Baumeister, 2013). Additionally, self-esteem has three conceptualizations; as an outcome, as a self-motive, and as a buffer (Baumeister, 2013). The outcome conceptualization focuses on the processes that produce or inhibit self-esteem. As a self-motive, self-esteem is seen as the tendency of an individual to behave in a way that increases or maintains positive evaluations of the self. Self-esteem can be viewed as a buffer for the self to provide protection from harmful experiences. Self-esteem assumes a significant role in the process of self-verification within groups. With the concepts of “group” and “others” being the foundation of social networking sites, social media provides contexts or structures for self-verification which produce or diminish a user’s self-esteem (Hou & Ma, 2014).
Several research studies have focused on the relationships between social media use and self-esteem, mental, and overall well-being of adolescents and young adults. Social interactions, offline and online, influence the self-esteem of young people. According to Jiang & Ngien (2020), social media enables people to make social comparisons, increasing psychological distress, and lowering a person’s self-esteem and self-growth. As the use of social media continues to increase, change, and shape peer interactions among youth in the UAE, it appropriate to explore the relationship between social media and their self-esteem. This study contributes to the growing body of research on this topic by investigating the impact of social media on the self-esteem of UAE’s young population.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The use of social networking sites in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region has increased dramatically over the last decade. The use of social media has several positive and detrimental outcomes on individuals. Social networking sites give users the ability to communicate and interact with others online, regardless of their location. Social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have created opportunities for connecting with friends, family, and strangers and form lasting relationships (Argo & Lowery, 2017). The existence of an array of online social sites gives individuals a more diversified audiovisual platform for communication and maintenance of relationships with friends and followers online (Argo & Lowery, 2017). Social media sites allow individuals to establish a virtual presence and create an online identity with which they can disseminate different types of information about themselves (Vogel et al., 2014). The kind and number of responses they receive after posting information to social media coupled with the comparisons of online profiles can have significant effects on the user’s perspective of self, resulting in a high or low self-esteem. Young adults spend more time on the internet and use social media more frequently than older people.
Stenly (2017) states that the majority of users on Facebook utilize the platform to look at how their friends, old and current, are doing, how their lives are going, and how they look. They view happy photos posted by their friends and form a conclusion that their lives are better and are happier than themselves. This perspective has a negative impact on their self-esteem and their individual well-being. Guven (2019) asserts that Facebook use is positively correlated with psychological distress. Young people who are addicted to social media have been shown to have lower levels of self-esteem. While several studies in the Middle East have explored the proliferation of social networking sites and their usage among young people, few studies have focused on the effects social media usage has on users’ self-esteem. The present study fills this gap in research through an investigation of the relationship between the use of different social media platforms and self-esteem levels.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to investigate the activities of Emirati young adults in social networking sites and how this affects their social development with regard to self-esteem. The study aims to understand how social media use influences young people’s sense of self-worth with a view to drawing policy implications for mitigation to assist young people in the UAE develop positively within their social sphere.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are the research questions that will guide the present study;
* How much time do young adults in the UAE spend on social media?
* Does any relationship exist between the time spent on social media and self-esteem of young adults in the UAE?
* What factors of social networking sites are responsible for influencing the self-esteem of young adults in the UAE?
1.5 Hypothesis
Ho: There is a negative relationship between social media usage and self-esteem of young adults in the UAE.
H1: There is a positive relationship between social media usage and self-esteem of young adults in the UAE.
2.0 Literature Review
The construct of self-esteem is central to social and developmental psychology. According to (Baumeister, 2013), self-esteem refers to an “individual’s perception or subjective appraisal of their self-worth, one’s feelings of self-respect and self-confidence and the extent to which the individual holds positive or negative views about themselves.” Self-esteem encompasses a person’s beliefs about their abilities, skills, and social relationships. Individuals with high self-esteem consider themselves worthy, valued, loved, competent, accepted, and have a heightened self-respect (Cast & Burke, 2002). Those with a low or unhealthy self-esteem consider themselves as unworthy and lacking in value to others and often ashamed and frustrated about themselves. A low self-esteem stems from rejection, lack of attention, prejudice, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse such as humiliation, ridicule, and sarcasm, comparison of perfectionism, and failure to meet expectations. Cast & Burke (2002) posit that self-esteem entails a conceptualization and evaluation of oneself followed by a momentary emotional reaction towards oneself.
Self-esteem is vital for young adults as they are undergoing the process of identity development and self-verification. Young adulthood is a period in an individual’s life when feedback on the self is most likely to influence their self-esteem (Valkenburg et al., 2017). During this stage, a person is able to develop a concept of their worth and construct higher-order generalizations about themselves (Argo & Lowery, 2017). Daniels (2020) states that as an individual enters adulthood, they develop a greater understanding of their positive and negative attributes. They develop more realistic perceptions of themselves, and these have a greater potential to lean towards negativity (Daniels, 2020). Young people employ social comparisons, which have a negative impact on the sense of self it they fall short in their self-evaluations (Vogel et al., 2014).
Central to the examination of the role of social inte...

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