Social media’s dark side: inducing boundary conflicts

Ward van Zoonen*, Joost W.M. Verhoeven, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the negative consequences of work-related social media use, and the extent to which the presence of social media policies in organizations are able to mitigate these consequences. Design/methodology/approach: Internet-based survey data (N=575) was analyzed using structural equation modeling to test the indirect effect of social media use on exhaustion through work/life conflict. Findings: This study shows that there is a dark side to social media use, as employees’ work-related social media use might be intrusive to their personal lives while simultaneously increasing life to work conflict. Furthermore, the results indicate that the current implementation of social media usage policies at work is not sufficient to defend employees against the negative consequences of social media use; namely, work/life conflict and ultimately exhaustion. Research limitations/implications: The indirect pathways are assessed using cross-sectional data, which makes verifying causal relationships difficult. Practical implications: The findings underscore the need for contemporary organizations to pragmatically intensify their efforts to mitigate the impacts of boundary conflict on workers’ well-being that result from increased use of social media for work. Originality/value: This paper is among the first to demonstrate that the use of social media for work is related to exhaustion through increased work/life conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1311
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundary management
  • Exhaustion
  • Social media policies
  • Work to life conflict


Dive into the research topics of 'Social media’s dark side: inducing boundary conflicts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this