Nowadays, social media plays an unavoidably massive part in our daily lives, both as individuals and as a society as a whole. The influence of social media has grown in recent years, and with that have been a host of positives and negatives. One of the negatives has been the discovery of social media addiction.
While social media use is a harmless and non-problematic activity for the large majority of people, there are some individuals who fall prey to the addictive influence of social media. Social media addiction, similar to other variations of addictive disorders, is best described as being a behavioural addiction.
Broadly speaking, social media addiction causes a person to be overly concerned about their social media presence, compelled by a severe urge to check their social media, often leading to a person devoting excessive amounts of time to social media to a point where it negatively impacts other areas of their life.
Below we will go through the negatives of social media use, the effects of being addicted to social media, as well as how to prevent social media addiction.
How Can Social Media Be Addictive?
The occurrence of social media addiction is largely due to the dopamine-inducing environment which social network sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) provide for their users.
The aforementioned social media sites can manipulate the same neural pathways and areas of your brain that you experience when using recreational drugs and/or gambling.
There have been studies into the effects of engaging with social media on an individual’s brain, with scientists finding evidence that getting a like or a retweet on social media will cause the same kind of chemical reaction in your brain as you would experience with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines.
This has lead neuroscientists to compare social media engagement with a dopamine-filled syringe being injected straight into your system.
An additional factor that has to lead to the propagation of social media addiction is the fact that certain reward centres in an individual’s brain will be most active when an individual is discussing themselves or their own life.
It is commonly estimated that an individual will often spend 30-40% of the time talking about themselves when in real life. Although, due to the fact that social media is designed around showing off the details and accomplishments of your own life, this percentage is much higher when talking on social media.
When an individual posts an image of themselves and receives approbation on social media, certain areas of their brain are stimulated to release dopamine, and this rewards the act of engaging with social media and thus encourages social media addiction.
A person’s social media usage can become an issue when an individual sees social networking as a way to cope with things such as stress, depression, or loneliness.
For some people, engaging with social media provides them with repeated rewards, and dopamine hits, that they have not been receiving in their actual life — thus prompting them to spend more time on social media as opposed to engaging with the real world around them.
Continuous time spent on social media as opposed to real-life means that people suffering from social media addiction can present with a series of negative side-effects, both physical and psychological.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Being Addicted To Social Media?
Spending the odd moment here and there on social media is not likely to lead to any harmful consequences, although there are a whole host of negative side-effects to be wary of when you are spending far too much time on social media.
Some of the possible negatives associated with excessive social media use include:
- Experiencing decreased self-esteem, often prompted by a false idea that everyone else’s life is much better than your own.
- Anxiousness and/or the development of depressive disorders.
- Experiencing severe periods of isolation and loneliness.
- Development of social anxiousness, and a reluctance to attend social gatherings.
- Constant feelings that you are missing out, perhaps by assuming that you are not being invited to events/gatherings that are not actually taking place.
- Ruined sleeping patterns, exacerbated by staring at a bright screen just before falling asleep.
- Reduced willingness to engage in physical activities, which will take a toll on your overall physical health.
- Lack of commitment to your school work and/or professional work.
- A tendency to ignore the real relationships in your daily life.
- Lack of ability to show empathy for other people.
By using these side effects, you may be able to identify if you are currently experiencing social media addiction. Therefore, if you are finding that you are focusing on your social media accounts to the detriment of other areas of your life, or perhaps you think that your constant social media engagement may be the cause of your negative mental health, then you should consider taking measures to lessen your social media engagement.
How To Prevent Social Media Addiction
Whether you are currently suffering from social media addiction or you simply think that it might be good for you to lessen your reliance on social media apps, then there are a lot of good steps that you can take to achieve this — and you may begin to notice positive repercussions on your daily life almost immediately.
Some of the following techniques may be the perfect way for you to lessen your social media dependency:
- Remove the social media apps from your handheld device. It will still be possible for you to log in to your accounts from a desktop browser, but making sure that you do not have them at the touch of a button is an important step.
- Switching off your mobile phone while you are at work or at school, and also try two turn your phone off while you are eating or talking with your partner.
- Try setting aside a specific amount of time each day that you can spend on social media.
- Taking up a new hobby can be a good way to find alternative things to occupy your time. Sports and physical activities can also be a good way to improve your overall health.
If you have any more questions about social media addiction, or if you think that you need professional help with overcoming addiction, then please call Ocean Recovery on 01253 847 553.