The time of books, magazines, and newspapers for information and entertainment may seem like a distant relative in today’s world. With a society engulfed so much in technology it can come as no big surprise that everyday more people become addicted to social media. Platforms that perhaps had started as a means to keep in touch have eventually become the primary force of how we learn and communicate with each other. Oddly enough, for some people social media has become a source of income- a side deal or even main occupation with enough followers. Hence the danger of social media addiction, the craving for that next notification of a ‘like’ and/or ‘share’. Social media has become the virtual outlet of finding anything or anyone a person desires, and that makes it all the more addictive. Add in a pandemic with guidelines that advise you to stay home and the result is the perfect storm for social media addiction. Today, psychologists estimate that as many as 5 to 10% of Americans meet the criteria for becoming addicted to social media. Although for many the use of social media is non-problematic, there is however a small percentage of users that become addicted to social media sites. Excessively engaging with them to the point of compulsive use in their everyday life. So how does someone become addicted to social media?
Why Someone May Become Addicted To Social Media
Social media use is not going anywhere, it has become part of our humanity in many ways. And for most people, using social media seems completely harmless and utilized as a way to spend free time chatting with friends, learning, or updating on current events. However social media use becomes problematic when someone views social networking sites as their place in the world, their reality. Excessive use can eventually lead to multiple interpersonal problems, such as ignoring or even exiting real life relationships, neglecting physical health, and ignoring work, school, and family responsibilities. This is especially true for younger adults and teens, who are vulnerable enough as it is when it comes to influence, mood, and self esteem. Moods can easily fluctuate with unhealthy amounts of social media use, worsening the problem. Everyday more people become addicted to social media by using networking behavior as a way of relieving dysphoric mood states. This is because when addicted users repeat this pattern of relieving undesirable moods with social media use, their level of psychological dependency increases. In other words, social media addiction is a behavioral disorder that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media. To the point that an addicted individual devotes so much time and effort to social media that it impairs every other important aspect of their life.
What May Explain Why More People Become Addicted To Social Media
Did you know that social media platforms produce the same neural circuitry that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible!? Due to the effect that social media use has on the brain, it can maybe help explain why everyday more people become addicted to social media. According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social media platforms and networking sites light up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. The reward area in the brain and its chemical messenger pathways affect decisions and sensations. More specifically, neurons found in the principal dopamine-producing areas of the brain are activated and therefore dopamine levels rise. The brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement, hence the correlation with addiction. For example, when an individual using social media gets a notification, such as a like or share, the brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along reward pathways, causing the individual to feel pleasure. These drops of happiness can give the social media user craving more, paving the way to an unhealthy addiction. Below are daily activities seen today that can be harmless for some and signs of growing addiction for others.
Morning Rituals – Checking Social Media The First Chance You Are Awake
It’s not uncommon to want to check your phone or computer first thing in the morning- a lot of the plans for our day can be determined by what we see on a screen in today’s world. Weather updates, work or school emails, personal messages and/or texts, even billing payments may be our first concerns of the day. Hence why those wiser have adapted the habit of keeping devices in another room besides the bedroom. Feeling an excessively strong urge to check your social media first thing in the morning can be disguised as your daily dopamine kickstart. This also applies to when you finish the work day, or at any other point in the day when you have free time to yourself. The phenomena of social media addiction, or why everyday more people become addicted to social media, can be largely attributed to the dopamine-inducing social environments that social networking sites provide. Fight the morning urge and replace with a new mentally healthier ritual such as stretching, breathing, or journaling hopes for the day!
Checking Social Media For Updates At Work And Throughout The Day
Sure, it’s break time at work and why not sit down and scroll your social media to check if there’s anything new for you to see. Seems harmless, makes sense, and most of the time it is. But with the realization that everyday more people become addicted to social media, waiting for work breaks or any moments of the day to check your tech can be a sign of addiction. Allowing social media sites to distract and hinder you from your productivity is a direct impact of being addicted to them unfortunately. We all know how the temptation of opening Facebook or Twitter whilst in the middle of a boring or difficult task is strong, but holding strong to focus is key. When work performance suffers and down time is always engulfed in social media, the tech force may be too strong and be a sign of social media addiction.
This is where anxiety from social media addiction comes into play. Someone addicted to social media will have anxious feelings of a desperate need to check and refresh their social media pages. Someone experiencing this type of disorder will stress when; away from their phone/device, be without access to the internet, when battery life is low and unable to charge their device soon. In fact, the prospect of not being able to go on social media for an amount of time will leave the addicted individual feeling anxious to the point of panic. Addictive social media use will look much like any other substance use disorder and may include mood modification (i.e., engagement in social media leads to a favorable change in emotional states), salience (i.e., behavioral, cognitive, and emotional preoccupation with social media), tolerance (i.e., ever-increasing use of social media over time), withdrawal symptoms (i.e., experiencing unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms when social media use is restricted or stopped), and conflict (i.e., interpersonal problems ensue because of social media usage), and relapse (i.e., addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after an abstinence period). Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort.
Feelings That Your Social Media Profile Is Actually You
We are products of our environment some will argue, so then what if We are The Product in our environment? Everyday more people become addicted to social media in light that they may actually feel their profile is an extension of who they actually are. In the non-virtual world, it is estimated that people talk about themselves around 30 to 40% of the time. Because social media provides platforms that are all about sharing our life and personal accomplishments, people talk about themselves a staggering 80% of the time. This type of sharing is encouraged, as when a person posts a picture they may receive positive social feedback. Therefore stimulating the brain to release dopamine, rewarding that behavior and perpetuating the social media addiction. Neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system. The brain rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, making people desire likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions. And in fact, another perpetuating factor of social media addiction is that the reward centers of the brain are most active when people are talking about themselves. So is it all that surprising that for some their social media profile is actually a part of who they are?