Connecting with family, friends, and coworkers in todays world is as easy as it has ever been. Photos and experiences are shared in seconds rather than the decades it may have taken just 20 years ago. But, this conveinance and novelty come at a cost for many. Addiction to social media may seem like a hoax, but for some it is real and can be very distrupting to lives and families.
Here Are the Stats
Facebook has over 1.86 billion active monthly users (2016) with 1.15 billion of those users logging on every day (2016). There are more than 317 million monthly active tweeters on Twitter. Instagram has 600 million active monthly picture sharers and Pinterest is continuing to grow with 150 million active monthly users. These stats will likely change tomorrow. As one large connected technology culture, we are infatuated with social media. But are we addicted to social media?
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a complex topic and the subject of constant psychological and medical research. While it is difficult to pin down exactly what addiction is, most people has a sense for what it looks like, and it is likely something like this: the compulsive ingesting of a substance or engaging in an activity that can be pleasurable but becomes so compulsive that it interferes with ordinary life responsibilities and/or health. In the case of Facebook and other social media, we are likely looking at behavioral addiction, which differs from substance addiction in that the compulsive behavior is related to an activity like gambling, shopping, or even scrolling through your newsfeed. But can you actually be addicted to social media?
Addicted to Social Media
The jury is still out. There are no statistics specifically regarding social media addiction as it is not an actual medical diagnosis, yet. But there is more an more evidence that there are social media users who seemingly have crossed a line between social networking and social media compulsion. The most startling result of this behavior is that many of those users show some of the same mood swings and signs of withdrawal associated with more widely known behavioral addictions like gambling. This correlation is then further complicated by the evidence that suggests that there may be a relationship between how often you use social media and mental health issues. Though none of initial evidence or observations prove that one could be addicted to social media, a study conducted by a team at Chicago University’s Booth Business School attempted to test will power. The results were startling, as they pointed to the compulsions to log in to social media or email outranked the urge to smoke a cigarette or have an alcoholic beverage in terms of their “self-control failure rates.”
So is Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, or Instagram put you in a state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming? For many this answer is likely, “maybe.” The Telegraph has 12 ways to know if you are addicted to social media that include checking your social accounts right when you wake up and that you “like” your own posts. The New York Times reports that social media take up between 4-7 hours a week of our time on average depending on age.
Side Effects of a Social Media Addiction
Addiction can lead to over-stimulation, cause anxiety and stress, damage to relationships, and even threaten the family unit. Many experts believe that these addictions to technology have little to do with the technologyh itself, but rather issues such as depression, social anxiety, or other mental health concerns.
Should you be a sufferer of this addiction or looking to help someone who is, consider these tips from Lifehack to help you manage it.