Pakyong, 2 Feb: Over the past ten years, checking and browsing through social media has grown in popularity. Despite the fact that the majority of people’s use of social media is not harmful, a small minority of users develop an addiction to social networking sites and use them compulsively or excessively. In fact, researchers predict that between 5 and 10% of Americans currently fit the bill for social media addiction. The symptoms of social media addiction include excessive worry about social media, an insatiable want to access or use social media, and spending so much time and energy on social media that it interferes with other crucial aspects of one’s life.
Similar to other substance use disorders, addictive social media use can cause mood modification (i.e., a positive change in emotional states as a result of social media use), salience (i.e., a behavioral, cognitive, and emotional preoccupation with social media), tolerance (i.e., constant, increasing use of social media), and withdrawal symptoms (i.e., unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms when social media use is curtailed or stopped) (i.e., addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after an abstinence period).
Who Is to Blame?
Social networking sites’ dopamine-producing social contexts are largely to blame for the phenomenon of social media addiction. To keep users using their products as much as possible, social media companies like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram alter neuronal circuitry in a similar way to how gambling and recreational drugs do. According to studies, the constant barrage of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites causes the same kind of physiological reaction to occur in the brain’s reward centre as drugs like cocaine. In fact, social media contact has been likened by neuroscientists to the direct injection of dopamine into the body.
Effects of Social Media on the Brain:
Over the past ten years, checking and browsing through social media has grown in popularity. Despite the fact that the majority of people’s use of social media is not harmful, a small minority of users develop an addiction to social networking sites and use them compulsively or excessively. In fact, researchers predict that between 5 and 10% of Americans currently fit the bill for social media addiction. The symptoms of social media addiction include excessive worry about social media, an insatiable want to access or use social media, and spending so much time and energy on social media that it interferes with other crucial aspects of one’s life.
This can be seen in how people use social media: when they receive a notification, such a like or a mention, their brain releases a burst of dopamine and sends it along reward pathways, making them feel happy. For comparatively little work, social media offers an unending supply of instant rewards in the shape of other people’s attention. Through this positive reinforcement, the brain rewires itself, making people crave likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions.
The fact that the reward circuit of the brain are most activated when people are talking about themselves is another element that contributes to social media addiction. People are said to talk about themselves roughly 30 to 40 percent of the time in the non-virtual world, but since social media is all about showcasing one’s life and accomplishments, people talk about themselves an astounding 80 percent of the time. A person may receive supportive comments from others after posting a picture, which prompts the brain to produce dopamine, rewarding the action and maintaining the social media habit.
When someone uses social networking sites as a significant coping strategy to deal with stress, loneliness, or despair, social media use becomes problematic. These users receive ongoing benefits from social media use that they do not receive in real life, leading them to partake in the activity more frequently. This constant use eventually causes numerous interpersonal issues, including the neglect of real-life relationships, obligations from work or school, and physical health, all of which can compound someone’s bad moods. As a result, people increase their social networking activity as a means of coping with dysphoric mood states. The degree of psychological dependence on social media rises when users of social networks continue this cycle of using social media to lift unfavourable moods.
How can you recognize A Social Media Addiction?
Despite the fact that many people use social media regularly, very few of them are actually addicted.
Ask the following 6 questions to see if someone is at risk of becoming addicted to social media:
• Do they frequently contemplate using social media or make plans to do so?
• Do they have increasing urges to use social media?
• Do people utilize social media to put their personal issues behind them?
• Do they frequently try—and fail—to limit their use of social media?
• If they aren’t able to utilize social media, do they get restless or worried?
• Do they use social media in such a way that it has harmed their employment or their studies?
If you answered “yes” to more than three of them, you might have a social media addiction.
A digital detox, which involves drastically reducing the amount of time spent on electronic devices like smartphones or computers, could be a good precaution. Simple actions like turning off sound notifications and just checking social media sites once every hour can be included in this. Other adjustments can include setting aside self-imposed screen-free time during mealtimes or putting the phone away from the bed at night so as not to interrupt sleep. This promotes a return to social connection in the real world and lessens reliance on social networking platforms.
Mental Health with regards to Social Media:
Social media use, poor mental health, and low self-esteem clearly have links, according to research. Social media sites have their advantages, but overusing them can lead to a feeling of loneliness and unhappiness. These unfavourable emotional responses are brought on by the comparison of material possessions and lifestyles that these websites promote as well as the social obligation to share goods with others. People see curated content on Facebook and Instagram, which consists of posts and adverts that are expressly created to appeal to users depending on their interests. Users might experience happiness or inspiration as a result of seeing other people post about their fantastic careers, wonderful partners, or lovely homes. However, some people could view these images and experience jealousy, depression, or even suicidal thoughts since their own lives are not as “perfect” as those they see on Facebook or Instagram.
According to recent studies, frequent social network users tend to think that other users are happier and more successful than they are, even if they don’t know those individuals very well in real life. Social media encourages a culture where individuals compare their imperfect, filtered, and edited online personas to their realistic offline selves, which can be harmful to one’s mental health and sense of self. Excessive social media use can increase the chance of acquiring mental health conditions including anxiety and depression in addition to making users unhappy and generally unhappy with their lives. Continuous comparison to others can result in feelings of inadequacy or a demand for order and perfection, which frequently presents as social anxiety disorder.
The fear of missing out (FOMO):
The fear of missing out (FOMO), a severe worry of being excluded from or missing a social gathering, is another facet of social anxiety brought on by online media use. Users may view images of events they were not invited to or glimpses of enjoyable activities they were unable to attend due to work or school commitments and worry that no one will notice they are missing out as a result. They may also worry that since they are not present, they will be forgotten. FOMO can damage one’s self-esteem and induce excessive social media checking to make sure they aren’t missing anything, which can lead to issues at work and in the classroom. According to a Harvard University study, social media dramatically harms the emotional health of chronic users and their lives, which has a negative influence on their ability to learn and their ability to maintain real-world connections.
Who is at risk? The ‘Answer’: Youth
Children who use social media for three or more hours each day are thought to be 27% more likely to experience mental health issues. Because their brains and social abilities are still developing, children and young people who use social networking sites excessively have far bigger problems. According to research, teenagers who use social media regularly since a young age have substantially impaired social skills. Even while users are communicating with one another on digital platforms, many of these interactions don’t always transition effectively to the real world. According to studies, these people exhibit heightened social anxiety in social situations, higher rates of depression, a negative self-image, and lower levels of empathy and compassion for others.
In young adults, the steady stream of flawlessly edited photographs that flood social networking sites can also contribute to low self-esteem and compulsive eating. Even if many teenagers are aware that their classmates only post the finest photos and videos on social media, it may be quite challenging to refrain from drawing comparisons. Teenagers’ perceptions of their own bodies may change as a result of continual exposure to unattainable beauty standards via social networking platforms. According to a University of Pittsburgh study, scrolling through social media apps and receiving negative body image feedback are related. When compared to their friends who used social media less, those who spent more time on it had a 2.2 times higher risk of disclosing eating and body image issues.
Users evaluate and process everything, from one’s physical appearance to their situations in life to their perceived triumphs. Teens who want to increase their social media following may change how they look and make other undesirable decisions, such as taking on risky social media challenges and indulging in bad habits.Competition for views and attention can even result in online bullying. Teenagers have long engaged in name-calling, rumor-mongering, and harassment, but social media gives them more possibilities than ever before. Teenage girls are more vulnerable to cyberbullying on social media, but boys are not exempt.
Let’s find a solution:
The drive to use and participate on social networking sites consumes those with a social media addiction, however many others can utilize social media on a daily basis without any issues. Fortunately, the illness is fairly treatable, and many people have made a full recovery. While cutting back on screen time is an excellent method to battle problematic social media use, professional assistance may be necessary if the addiction is too severe.
Think about why you use social media and what the benefits and drawbacks of the time spent on various platforms thus far if you have trouble controlling your use and suspect you may be addicted. To paraphrase a well-known saying, it is, at the very least, unreasonable to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. The good news is that it’s feasible to limit your usage of dangerous social media, and you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, and maintaining positive relationships with our online friends and neighbours is definitely feasible.
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