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Social Media Addiction - Facts & Challenges

Social media addiction is a behavioural addiction defined by excessive concern about social media, an uncontrolled need to log on to or use social media, and spending far more time and energy on social media so that it hinders other vital life activities.

The dopamine-inducing social contexts provided by social networking sites are primarily responsible for social media addiction. To keep users using their goods as often as possible, social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram induce a similar brain circuitry caused by gambling and recreational drugs. According to studies, the steady stream of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites causes the brain's reward region to elicit the same chemical reaction found with narcotics such as cocaine. According to experts, as many as 5 to 10% of Americans currently fulfil the criteria for social media addiction. Neuroscientists have described social media contact as a syringe of dopamine being shot directly into the system.

What Does Social Media Addiction Do?

According to research, there is an irrefutable correlation between social media use, poor mental health, and low self-esteem. People who take it frequently may become progressively dissatisfied and alone. These unpleasant emotional reactions are caused by the social pressure to share items with others and by comparing material objects and lifestyles that these sites promote. Social media creates an atmosphere where individuals reach their authentic offline selves to the perfect, filtered, and edited website links, damaging mental health and self-perception. Excessive social media usage can not only lead to unhappiness and overall discontent with life, but it can also raise the chance of acquiring mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. Continuously responding to others can result in feelings of self-consciousness or demand for perfectionism and discipline, both of which can emerge as a social anxiety disorder. According to Harvard University research, social media has a significant negative influence on chronic users' emotional well-being and lifestyles, severely damaging their genuine relationships and academic accomplishment.

Another component of social anxiety produced by online media usage is the fear of missing out (FOMO), the overwhelming worry of not being involved or missing a social gathering. Users may view images of parties to which they were not invited, or glimpses of pleasant trips that they have been unable to attend due to work or school responsibilities, and feel anxious that nobody ever misses them as a consequence — or worry that they will be neglected because they are not present. According to research conducted by California State University, those who visited any social media site at least 58 times per week were 3 times more likely socially alienated and unhappy than those using social media less than 9 times per week.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Social Media Addiction?

Because social media is a relatively new technology, there has been little study to determine its usage's long-term effects, positive or negative. Multiple studies, however, have identified a substantial correlation between excessive social media use and an increased risk of melancholy, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicide ideation.Adverse experiences may be promoted via social media, such as:

  • Dissatisfaction with your life or looks: Even if you are aware that the photographs you see on social media have been edited, they may nevertheless make you feel anxious about how you appear or what is going on in your own life. Similarly, we are all aware that other people prefer to discuss just the significant aspects of their lives, seldom the terrible periods everyone goes through. But it doesn't make you feel any less envious or dissatisfied when you're going through a friend's retouched images of their exotic beach vacation or reading about their fantastic new job promotion.
  • Anxiety over missing out (FOMO): While FOMO has been much longer than social media, sites like Facebook and Instagram seem to increase emotions that others have more fun or enjoy better lives than you. The feeling that you're missing out on some things might lower your self-esteem, cause worry, and drive you to use social media even more. FOMO might force you to pick up your phone every few minutes to check for updates or to reply frantically to every alert—even if it means risking your life while driving, losing out on sleep, or putting social media involvement above real-world connections.
  • Exclusion: According to research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, excessive use of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram enhance rather than lowers feelings of loneliness. In contrast, the study discovered that limiting your use of social media might help you feel less lonely and isolated, as well as increase your general wellness.
  • Anxiety and depression: To be psychologically healthy, humans need face-to-face interaction. Nothing relieves stress and improves mood quicker or more efficiently than making eye contact with someone who cares about you. The more you value social media activity above in-person connections, the more likely you will acquire or worsen mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • Cyberbullying: Approximately 10% of kids report being bullied on social media, while many other users get nasty remarks. Twitter, for example, can be a hub for spreading harmful rumours, falsehoods, and abuse that may cause long-lasting emotional scars.
  • Self-indulgence: Sharing countless selfies and your most profound thoughts on social media may lead to unhealthy self-centeredness and remove you from real-life friendships.

How Do I Stop My Social Media Addiction?

A reevaluation of your digital-life balance is required to overcome social media addiction. While only you can determine this, there are actions you can take to lessen your reliance on social media and reclaim power from the smartphone.

  • Disable notifications: Notifications for tweets, likes, etc., are annoying enough. If you do this after a post, it is harmful and will induce worry. After publishing, get away from social media for a while, so you don't become distracted by comments.
  • Don't sleep with your phone: Put your phone across the room. We won't check the phone if it's out of reach. It's easy to grab your phone and surf through social media while lying in bed. If you have to get up to accomplish this, you'll think about why you want your phone, which may help you use it less at night.
  • Avoid phone from your morning routine: Don't go for your phone as soon as you get out of bed. Many of us check our phones first thing in the morning. The rapid influx of material as you scroll is too much for our tired brains to process. This will overwhelm and distract us all day, affecting our concentration capacity. Try not to touch it till the day has begun.Less emphasis on social media appearance:
  • Choose analogue options: Rekindle old passions or find new ones. Set aside time for non-screen activities like arts & crafts, reading, and exercise.
  • Digital detox: Learn to live without it. This does not imply forsaking social media but taking a break from it. A digital detox.

All of the suggestions above lead to digital detox. However, the advantages of a complete digital detox outweigh those of any other offer. You realise how much more time and mental space you have only after quitting social media from your routine.

Conclusion

Social media, like other technology, has advantages and disadvantages for its users. While the good features are crucial, responsible social media usage is required to prevent the unavoidable mental and behavioural effects. Because of the way social media interacts with our brain, it is inherently addictive. When we post stuff on social media, our brain produces dopamine, the same chemical that is produced when we use addictive substances. As a consequence, you experience pleasure as you associate social media usage with positive reinforcement.

Every time you get a social media notice, your dopamine levels will rise. You might boost your social media use to engage your brain's reward centre. You may depend on social media to give incentives and relationships that you would not otherwise obtain. You might establish a psychological dependency on social media over time while disregarding real-life contacts and interpersonal connections.

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