As technology becomes more and more integrated in our lives, the struggle against social media addiction has become increasingly more prevalent. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have mastered the art of user experience, enticing people of all ages to stay on their apps a little bit longer and longer each visit. Consequently, social media addiction can occur when people can't resist looking at their phone to catch up with the latest posts or religiously upload content to their social media profiles. The constant, overbearing desire to stay updated on people's status's can be as devastating an addiction as drug dependance. Here's five shocking yet true facts about social media addiction.
1. Social Media Addiction is comparable to cocaine addiction.
Cocaine, despite its harmful and potentially deadly nature, is one of the most addictive recreational drugs available. Users experience a short period of euphoria due to the excess dopamine released in the reward circuit of the brain. As it turns out, social media can cause similar dopamine releases to the brain, mimicking the same euphoric experience that cocaine addicts chase. Likes, comments, retweets, and shares from social media platforms have been shown in studies to be nearly as addictive as a cocaine rush (Addiction Center).
2. Social Media Addiction increases loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
Humans are social beings that require social interaction for healthy development. Alarmingly, likes, comments, retweets, and shares from social media platforms have been shown to mimic or even replace the same social benefits we receive from in-person interaction. This can be a problem when it is used as a replacement for our interpersonal social connections. When someone seeks social media usage as a means of coping with stress, their real life relationships can suffer from neglect, exacerbating interpersonal issues even further.
Additionally, excess social media exposure skews one's perception of reality when they compare their life to those of other's. When users see the constant successes of those they follow, they commonly compare their current situation to theirs. This contributes to feelings of decreased self-esteem, self-worth, and depression. Meanwhile, the reality is that everyone's life situation is different, and social media typically only captures the highlights of people's live. The narrow lens of social media rarely captures the mundane, behind-the-scenes aspects of people's lives. Moreover, it's impossible to live up to the unrealistic standard of success that is created when seeing everyone else's lives play out through their timeline.
3. Social Media Addiction hinders mental performance.
In a study that compared social media use, mental health, and academic performance among college students, the results supported the notion that social media addiction decreases mental performance. In the study, college students that showed the highest usage of social media consistently scored lower academically than their lower social media using peers. The study also reported on the negative affect of social media usage among college students with already poor mental health, implying that it can make it even worse when social needs are not being met. Whether you're a college student or not, the results of the study are clear that social media addiction can negatively affect performance, be it schoolwork or for your job.
4. Social Media Addiction can lead to vicarious trauma and symptoms that mimic PTSD.
News media outlets also have their affect on social media. Though Facebook and similar social media platforms have dedicated teams for weeding out explicit content, gruesome and shocking videos from news outlets can still be seen. Consequently, seeing such graphic events play out on our phones "does have an impact on our daily activities" and some people "may suffer longer lasting effects such as negative stress reactions, anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders-PTSD" after having viewed such content (Pam Ramsden). After traumatic events such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, social media addicted people are at an increased risk for developing vicarious trauma from over exposure to graphic videos and pictures.
5. "FOMO" is real.
FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, is reportedly one of the biggest motivators for people to develop social media addiction. One study supports this conclusion by revealing that 67% of people are afraid to miss out on updates if they don't constantly check their social media newsfeeds. If you've felt the same way, you could be experiencing FOMO!
How To Prevent Social Media Addiction
If any of the previous 5 social media facts applied to you, you may want to consider engaging in "digital detox" strategies. Here are some ways to disengage from social media and decrease your desire to constantly check your timeline.
Disable push notifications - Push notifications can distract you from what's going on around you. Turning them off will help you focus less on your phone and more on the people around you.
Place phone in different room - A continuation of push notification disabling, simply placing your phone in a different room can altogether remove the temptation to pick up your phone.
Designate periods of time to use social media - Like anything, moderation is needed to stay healthy, and this practice helps you prevent overuse.
Find healthy alternatives to time spent on social media - Rely less on social media as a coping mechanism. Here is a list of coping skills that will give you some ideas of how to combat boredom and anxiety.
Tell friends and family to help - Telling those you spend the most time with is a good idea so they can help you stay accountable.
Partake in a social media fast - Abstaining from social media for several days or even a week can help you reprogram your behavior to be less dependent on social media.
Seek professional help - The guidance of a professional counselor is unmatched when it comes to helping you with behavioral changes.
If you've tried limiting your social media use but just can't seem to resist it, or if your social life is suffering from it, it may be time to seek the help of a professional counselor. Fuller Life Counseling Partners believes in the mission of helping each individual they deal with overcome their addictions and restore the relationships lost. We are here to help by providing you the guidance and direction needed to turn your life around. Fill out our contact form or call us today to ask us any questions you may have!