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Social media addiction is a form of behavioral addiction in which a person engages in the compulsive and excessive use of social media. Problematic social media use ends up interfering with other aspects of one’s life and can affect a person in several harmful ways. Some indicators can help determine the existence of social media addiction in an individual. The symptoms of social media addiction include restlessness if unable to check social media, increased reliance on social media as a coping mechanism, and negative impacts on one’s personal life, to name a few. Various factors contribute to the development of the condition. The causes of social media addiction include addictiveness, stress and self-esteem, and social anxiety. These factors drive a person to continue with the excessive use of social media to clear out unpleasant feelings. Overusing social networking sites can result in many health and personal relationship problems also seen in other addictions. The effects of social media addiction include anxiety or depression, increased isolation, decreased physical activity, low self-esteem, and poor work or school performance, among many others.
Social media addiction is a behavioral condition that compels a person to become engrossed in social media. A social media addict will devote a significant amount of time and energy to check on social networking sites and engage with other users on the platforms.
Problematic social media use is characterized by the inability to reduce or stop online media consumption despite negative outcomes and serious downsides.
Several signs indicate that someone may have an addiction to social media. The most common signs and symptoms of social media addiction are listed below.
Social media addiction is caused by many contributing factors. The most common causes of social media addiction are listed below.
Overconsumption of social media can have negative repercussions. The effects of social media addiction are listed below.
Social media is addictive because it has a significant effect on the brain, a mechanism also seen in substance use disorders. Social media affects human psychology by activating the reward centers in the brain.
This process creates pleasurable feelings that can boost a person’s mood when checking social media. For instance, a person with an Instagram addiction can get feelings of pleasure in the form of likes or comments when sharing a piece of content.
This reward circuitry puts individuals at risk of compulsive behaviors around social media. When a person reencounters a trigger associated with the pleasurable feeling, that person is more likely to engage once more in the addictive behavior, unable to resist the thought of missing something important online.
Social media affects the brain by activating its reward circuitry and releasing dopamine in the process. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure and want.
Being on social media increases dopamine signals in the brain. The brain then identifies social media use as a rewarding experience that a person does for survival and therefore needs to be repeated. This mechanism of action may explain why is social media addictive for some people.
Rewards in social media come in the form of positive feedback from other users. Since these rewards increase the secretion of the feel-good hormone dopamine, people tend to look forward to positive feelings and will constantly check social media as a result.
People may develop an addiction to certain activities carried out on social media. The five types of social media addiction are listed below.
Overusing social media has several drawbacks. The downsides of social media addiction are listed below.
A person can suspect having social media addiction if they spend increasing amounts of time and energy on social media. Another major indicator of problematic social media use is its negative impacts on an individual’s life and personal relationships.
Because social media is now the priority in an addict’s life, they may start neglecting responsibilities and ignoring real-life relationships to engage with social media users. This interference in daily life functioning ultimately leads to a poorer quality of life.
Several actionable ways exist to conquer social media addiction. The ways on how to decrease social media use are listed below.
Social media can affect mental health by causing anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health challenges. Several studies have found an association between excessive social media use and certain mental health conditions.
Social media platforms offer individuals a place where there is an endless stream of opportunities for comparisons and feedback. This makes a person search for validation on social media, which the person sees as a substitute for a deep connection that can effectively be developed in real-life situations.
Problematic social media use can increase one’s risk of being bullied online or becoming a cyberbully. Through different platforms, people can spread malicious rumors and hurtful messages that can be emotionally scarring. Oftentimes, cyberbullies can cause emotional damage while remaining anonymous.
The great impact that social media platforms have on a person’s mental health can provide a clue as to exactly what is social media addiction and how serious its repercussions can be. Cyberbullying victims are often left with lasting emotional trauma, self-injurious behavior, and even suicidal thoughts.
The positive aspects of social media include staying connected with family and friends across the world, connecting with like-minded people, and raising awareness about an important cause, to name a few.
The pros of social media are often centered on its ability to connect people and build relationships. Despite its downsides, mindful use of social media can be beneficial for many and may help people avoid several social media addiction effects.
Building a healthy relationship with social media can allow individuals to use the platform to educate, inspire, foster empathy, and deepen relationships.
The negative aspects of social media include the risk for addiction, depression and anxiety, feelings of inadequacy about one’s life or appearance, sleep disturbances, and fear of missing out (FOMO), among many others.
All forms of social media addictions can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health. It is widely known that people who are addicted to social media also often deal with other mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
The highlights of a person’s life posted on social media can also cause unrealistic expectations of life, leading someone to feel inadequate in many ways. Similarly, the facade seen in online platforms creates an anxious feeling that someone is missing out on something exciting or interesting that may already be happening to someone else.
Lastly, overusing social media hurts one’s sleep quality. This can result in decreased productivity and poor concentration.
People who are addicted to social media may benefit from different treatment programs. The most successful treatments for social media addiction are listed below.
The treatments for social media addiction are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral activation, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family therapy.