Although there is no clear limit to social media addiction, if you are interested in social media at a level that can affect your daily life, you can read our article below.
What does social media addiction mean?
If you’re thinking about social media addiction , if you find yourself losing a few minutes (or even hours) at a time after using social media, you’re not alone.
While social media first started as a way to connect with friends and family, it has since evolved into an coveted hobby used by all age groups.
You can enjoy social media and use it on a daily basis, but are you “addicted” to it?
There is no such thing as an official diagnosis of social media addiction. But overuse of social media is becoming more and more common these days, and it can have some serious repercussions for your physical and mental health.
Let’s take a closer look at how to identify problematic social media use and what you can do about it.
What exactly is social media addiction?
You may be using social media to connect with friends and loved ones, watch videos, or just “kill time”. That’s because the popularity of this pastime has grown significantly over the past decades.
This is especially true for children and teenagers, as well as young and middle-aged adults. So how does a seemingly harmless hobby turn into an “addiction”?
Like other behavioral addictions, using social media can affect your brain in harmful ways. You can use social media forcefully and excessively.
You can get so used to scrolling through posts, pictures and videos that it can interfere with other areas of your life… When it interferes with other areas of your life, then you can talk about social media addiction!
Some experts estimate that 10 percent of people in the United States are addicted to social media. However, due to the widespread use of social media in general, the number of people with social media addiction may be higher.
Not everyone who uses social media develops an addiction. But as this activity becomes more accessible to more people, more people may develop an addiction to social media at some point in their lives.
Why is social media so addictive?
While social media may seem like a platform to pass time and a relaxing pastime, it actually has a significant impact on your brain. Every time you log into your favorite apps, dopamine levels in your brain increase. These neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure.
When you release more dopamine after using social media, your brain identifies this activity as a rewarding activity that you should repeat. Such a reaction can be felt more when you post and receive positive feedback.
Positive emotions experienced during social media use are only temporary. The way your brain is preoccupied with this positive reinforcement is seen in other addictions as well.
So, as the feel-good dopamine wears off, you’ll turn to the source (in this case, social media) for more.
In some cases, social media can be a welcome distraction if you’re isolated due to work or illness. The more you engage, the more your brain will tell you that this is an activity that can help reduce loneliness (in fact, that may not be the case).
What are the harms of social media addiction?
Being on social media once in a while is unlikely to be harmful. However, there are negative effects to consider when using social media excessively.
Some possible disadvantages of social media include:
- Low self-esteem (may be caused by misperceptions that other people’s lives are better than yours)
- Increased isolation and loneliness
- anxiety or depression
- Onset of social anxiety disorder
- Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that could lead to more social media use
- Disrupted sleep patterns, especially if you use social media right before bed
- Decreased physical activity, which can affect your overall health
- Poor course grades or work performance
- Ignoring relationships in your real life
- Decreased ability to empathize with others
What are the symptoms of social media addiction?
A mental health professional can help you determine whether you really have a social media addiction or whether you really enjoy using it.
But there are a few key differences between a social media addiction and a habit you enjoy. These include:
- Negative effects on your work or school work due to excessive use of social media
- Increased use while eating or during other activities such as hanging out with friends and family
- Increased reliance on social media as a way to deal with problems
- Restlessness and irritability when you don’t use social media
- Anger when social media use declines
- Entering social media with great excitement after a while
How to reduce the use of social media?
Whether you have a social media addiction or just spend too much time on your apps, the good news is; There are ways that can help reduce your overall usage.
Consider the following tips to help you strike a healthier balance with social media:
- Delete your social media apps from your smartphone. You can still access them on your PC, but keeping them off your phone can help reduce time spent on social media in general.
- Turn off your personal phone during work, as well as during school, meals and recreational activities. You can also change the setting in each social media app so you can turn off certain notifications.
- Set aside a certain amount of time each day for social media. Turn on a timer to help you be responsible.
- Leave your phone, tablet and computer out of your bedroom.
- Take up a new non-tech hobby. Examples include sports, art, cooking classes and more.
- Whenever possible, make sure to see your friends and family in person.
It’s also important to take regular breaks from social media to help find real-life grounding.
Depending on your needs, your break could last 1 day a week, an entire month, or an entire season. Be in control of this decision, not your social media account.
Social media is taking up more and more space today and in our lives, but this does not automatically mean that you will develop a social media addiction.
By taking frequent breaks and setting clear boundaries for yourself and your children, you can help prevent excessive addiction to social media before it becomes harmful.
If you suspect your social media addiction, there are ways to treat it to improve your overall well-being. Do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help with this type of addiction.