Is social media to blame for rise in narcissism?

Dr Lynette Maguire is set to spark controversy at the upcoming Zonta Club of Caloundra's International Women's Day breakfast on Friday, 4 March 2016 when she addresses the impact of narcissistic behaviour on our community.

Dr Maguire - a local commentator on teen behaviour who has recently completed her doctorate on how social networking enables an increase of narcissism and violence - said the trend towards narcissism had accelerated by more than 30 per cent in only two decades*, marking today's teens as arguably the most self-absorbed generation on record. "By definition, narcissists have a self-focus rather than a community focus.

They're also quick to anger and can be manipulative, whilst lacking empathy for others and having poor relationship skills," Dr Maguire said. "While it is a part of normal teenager development to be generally more self-focussed or show narcissistic behaviour, there is evidence that this behaviour is far more prevalent now than in previous generations."

"This increase in narcissism can be directly correlated with the rise of internet use, specifically social networking sites, as this technology allows users to present an unrealistic portrayal of themselves and foster 'look at me' behaviour such as selfies and the use of 'beautification apps."

"Social media provides a platform where anyone can be famous and it feeds narcissistic behaviours like seeking praise and judgement of others and degrading those considered 'unworthy'." Dr Maguire said the rise in narcissistic behaviour posed a number of negative ramifications for the community.

"The rise of teen suicide because of cyberbullying is a clear example of how these maladaptive behaviours are having a detrimental impact right across Australia. As a society, we're becoming crueller."

"Worryingly, if left unchecked, these behaviours also have the potential to feed into instances of domestic violence - not necessarily physical but psychological and emotional."

"Narcissists twist the words and actions of their family members to suit their own agenda and often the victim thinks they're going crazy. Their reality becomes warped because the psychological manipulation is relentless and in many cases the victim does not realise they've been abused until it's too late."

Zonta Club of Caloundra's President Mary Henzell said with cases of domestic violence in Queensland having risen in recent years and a government report** showing an average of more than 180 domestic violence incidents take place across the state each day, she was interested to hear from Dr Maguire about the latest social media trends that may be influencing this increase.

"These figures only reflect the incidents that are reported to the police and don't take into account the victims who are too scared or unable to seek police assistance, so it is clear that domestic violence is rife within our community and needs to be addressed urgently," Mrs Henzell said.

"The Zonta Club of Caloundra has been providing support for local domestic violence victims for many years now, with one of the club's main projects involving fundraising for the construction of a safe house in the Caloundra region for women facing domestic violence. In addition to this, we're looking forward to raising awareness of domestic violence within our community through our breakfast event."

"Dr Maguire's keynote presentation at the International Women's Day event will act as a timely reminder for Sunshine Coast residents to recognise and negate risk factors for domestic violence where possible and look at strategies to empower and support domestic violence victims."

As part of the International Women's Day breakfast, Mrs Henzell will also be presenting a number of bursaries to assist young local women who have proven their ability scholastically and are possibly struggling financially to further their study. The breakfast will be held at The Sebel Resort and Spa in Pelican Waters from 6.30am for a 7am start.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from

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