Author: Katarína Marcinová
Date of Publication: 11/01/2023
Social media first came up to the world in 1979 and since then has seen giant growth across the globe. In fact, social media plays a key role in today's society. However, it has changed in time and is becoming addictive. From the latest findings as of 2018, approximately 7 out of 10 Americans use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. Every second there are 9 000 new comments on Twitter, 140 000 new accounts on Facebook, and 72 hours of video is recorded on Youtube per minute. For example, Facebook has 500 million users who generate 4 billion messages. Thus, spending so much time in front of a computer or other device can cause an anxiety disorder. Anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and addiction are primarily consequences of extensive social media use. Actually, many cases of depression leading to suicide have arised too. Therefore, the more social media is used, the more likely it is for a person to have a mental illness.
Although social media addiction hasn’t been defined as a clinical diagnosis so far, many researches and expert discussions describe its negative effects on the human organism. In particular, many doctors have noted similar psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety that point to addiction.
What causes social media addiction?
Addiction is a brain reward disorder, characterized by a strong desire, compulsion to act, regardless of its negative consequences. As with drugs, alcohol, or nicotine, social media addiction has to do with the CNS and the level of dopamine. Whenever you receive a notification from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. your brain releases a certain amount of dopamine. This on its chemical level in our organism detects pleasant feelings. With each reminder, your brain gets excited, which in the long run creates a habit and the body indulges in addictive behavior. The body also has a certain tolerance to dopamine, which leads to a constant need for higher levels of dopamine in order to experience pleasure. If this activity is limited, a person cannot experience pleasure from normally pleasant activities. Last, withdrawal symptoms include agitation, irritability, sleep disturbances, or personality changes.
Signs and symptoms of social media addiction:
The first thing you do in the morning when you get up – you waste your time looking at stupid things – it´s about watching different videos, profiles, updates, that will not bring anything to your life.
You post everywhere – whether you are taking pictures of food, places, events, or yourself.
You keep checking notifications – checking when it rings is completely normal, but if you check your phone even without it giving you a signal, this is another signal of addiction.
Do you want to communicate with your friends via social media networks – you exchange physical contact for communication via social media networks.
The desire to connect to the Internet – if you are addicted and find yourself in a place without access to the Internet, as an addict you will feel stressed and restless.
The more time you spend on social media networks, the more you will be socially isolated from physical, face to face interaction with other people. As a result, this can cause you to experience less happiness and satisfaction. It incites envy and jealousy as well. People tend to compare themselves, especially on social media networks. They watch other people as they travel, enjoy life, which leads to desire to make their life look better, and also to publish similar posts including jealousy. It increases the level of anxiety and also affects your overall well-being. Addicted people will never just sit around in their free time, but immediately pull out their smartphone, check for updates. The desire to check social networks can even be so great that some people don't sleep at all because of it. Many people prefer to use social networks even at the expense of sleep, and the transferred fatigue is then reflected in the following days. A tired person cannot work at 100% and thereby loses many opportunities. External influences from social media platforms are increasingly likely to lower self-esteem in both men and women, which in turn contributes to depression and anxiety.
Adolescents and young adults are much more susceptible to FOMO. The fear of missing out is a fear caused by notifications or insufficient access to social media. People often search social media because they be afraid of lack update with subsequent consequences, such as disappointing someone for not responding immediately, losing social status, missing an invitation for a fun event, fear of being left out of important conversations and many more. Teenagers don't have the number of likes or comments that will ensure their acceptance, so they are constantly chasing a reward that doesn’t even exist. Other negatives of extensive use of social media are: cyberbullying, distraction and decreased productivity, fatigue and stress, blurred vision due to tired eyes, back and neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, sleep disorders...
How to get rid of addiction ?
The main key is to learn how to control social media networks before they dominate you.
Turn off notifications.
Limit your time which you dedicate to social networks.
Removing applications – yes, you can continue to use them, but it won’t be as comfortable and easy, which will help you reduce the desire to use them.
Be busy – hobbies, sports, education – think about how the time spent on social media could be spent better, surely something will come to your mind.
Disconnect from the Internet.
As dependent on social media you will never move forward in life, because you spend too much time with useless things.
Benefits of social media use
Better communication: They make it easier to find new friends, support communication with family and friends around the world. Also, it allows you to share your contributions, ideas, experiences, important events and many other things.
Building relationships and communities: It helps select communities of like-minded people and build stronger relationships with them, sharing a common interest.
Kindness and empathy: People often share their ups and downs and they can find empathy, support or even love in other people.
A source of knowledge and learning, expressing your opinion on important issues, business growth, dissemination of news, information, ground for creativity and self expression a source of entertainment.