The Charm Of Social Networks
The networks connect us with others, they are visually attractive, they offer us content about people, activities, places of our interest, but they are designed in a way that promotes the repetition of their use, Carolina Vidal, assistant professor of psychiatry, told CNN and behavioral sciences, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Most social networks have a common characteristic the like – that reinforces the behavior of the person who shares the comment or photo, promoting its repetition. The likes have been shown to be equivalent to reinforcing money or rewards social, said Vidal.
The explanation for why we cannot stop using them is in the brain.
Many people are drawn to frequent almost addictive use of social media because it activates brain chemicals and other rewards that make them want more of it, Dr. Mitch told CNN. Prinstein, Scientific Director of the American Psychological Association .
We are all interested in enjoyable social interactions, but research shows that social media and its focus on quantified likes, or frequent notifications, appear to be associated with activating areas in the brain that make us not only enjoy these interactions, but biologically yearn for more of them, Prinstein said via email.
These are the same brain regions associated with addiction to illegal substances, added the APA scientific director.
But it is not always problematic to use social networks.
Risk Factors For Social Media Addiction
There are a few factors that put a person at a higher risk of developing social media addiction, according to a study published in the Human Behavior And Emerging Technologies Journal.
The first is age. In general, younger people are more likely to engage in online activities and are at an increased risk of developing addictive social media use. Digital natives, or those born during the age of digital technology, are more predisposed to becoming excessively dependent on social media.
Several studies have also found that gender can also play a role. Men have been found to have a higher risk of developing an addiction to online games while women are more likely to become addicted to social media.
Lets Be Honest Weve All Done This And Its Nothing To Be Ashamed About
However, it comes to show much influence Facebook has engineered into us without us realizing why we perform these actions. Often we keep these big social circles to not only maintain our social capital but also due to FOMO .
Again this points to how these websites create these psychological effects that motivate us to constantly check our feeds so we dont miss out on things, even if its about someone who we might not know particularly well.
This brings us to the last point around how social media has slowly shaped our identities and how we want to be perceived online.
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What Does It Mean To Be Addicted To Social Media
Social media addiction, like Internet addiction, is a behavioral addiction. While being addicted to social media is not yet recognized by the medical community, most people who are online use social media sites. Social media addiction can lead to cyberbullying, as well as psychologically damaging exposure to inappropriate content. Ironically, being addicted to social media often isolates teens. Egocentrism and narcissism have been linked to social media addiction.
The genesis of teens being addicted to social media is Facebook addiction. Facebook currently has more than two billion active users, of whom more than 50 percent log on several times a day. Additionally, 71 percent of teens use Facebook.
Originally designed for Facebook addiction, the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale is a survey used by psychologists to test whether or not people are addicted to social media. The questions focus on escapism, obsessive thinking about social media sites, an inability to limit the use of social media, and withdrawal symptoms when not using social media. Like other behavioral addictions, a social media addiction can have a negative impact on work, academics, family interactions, and overall social life.
Why Are We So Addicted To Social Media
The first reason social networks can be so addictive is linked to the acronym most closely associated with them: FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Social networks create a sense of belonging and a sense of community. We build links with people who share the same interests and values as us by following them, re-tweeting them, or even by engaging with them directly. We are able to keep in contact with friends and colleagues with whom we might otherwise have lost touch, and can follow their lives online. We can participate and share in key events, whether that be the response to a sporting fixture, jokes and anger following the controversial actions of a public figure, or expressions of solidarity after a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. We invest these connections with value and meaning. If we choose to step away from social media, these are lost and we are left wondering what connections and shared experiences people are having in our absence, while we remain on the outside of them. If we never engage with social media, these connections hold no value for us, but once we sign up, our FOMO makes it difficult for us to disengage, albeit we might manage to do so for a short period of time, encouraged by initiatives such as Scroll Free September.
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How Does Social Media Addiction Affect Teens
Social media addiction not only directly affects a teens brain processes and chemicals, but other areas of life. A study found that the more teens used Facebook the more their overall satisfaction with life declined.
Studies suggest that when a teen focuses solely on themselves and showing off their best self they actually reduce self-esteem. Facebook and other social media activity has led to symptoms of both low self-esteem and narcissism.
Teens tend to compare themselves to others online. This is particular dangerous as it not only lowers self-esteem but can also lead to depression, eating disorders, self-harming behaviors and substance abuse.
Social media prohibits a teen to be fully absorbed in an activity. Referred to as flow state, the brain is constantly interrupted from a flow of rest and relaxation with social media posts and updates. This restricts and inhabits the teens ability to fully rest and relax in their activity.
Depression Stress And Anxiety
A lot of studies have shown a correlation between social media addiction and depression, but more recent studies, like this one on limiting social media time, show that excessive social media use can actually cause depression, and I think its no wonder. Between information overload, the constant comparison to other people, and the huge amount of time spent on it and away from other relaxing activities, social media seems more like a ticking anxiety-inducing stress bomb rather than the fun endeavor we imagine it to be.
And as weve seen in study no. 4 above, time is a big component of the link between social media use and depression. The more we use it, the more anxious and depressed we feel.
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How Social Media Affects Self
Picturesque portraits in Machu Picchu, selfies in the sand in Santorini, engagements, children, and new homes remind us of how we always seem to be missing out on lifes milestones and adventures. We curate our online identities, attempting to live up to an impossible standard, ever-more concerned with our digital reputation.
According to a Pew Research report on Teens, Social Media & Technology, they report the following experience of a 15-year-old girl:
It provides a fake image of someones life. It sometimes makes me feel that their life is perfect when it is not.
This perfectionism is amplified by new technology on social media platforms that automatically edit your photos. Dr. Hamlet, from the Child Mind Institute, states the following:
theres a so-called pretty filter on Instagram and Snapchat. Beautifying filters are used almost reflexively by many, which means that girls are getting used to seeing their peers effectively airbrushed every single day online. There are also image altering apps that teens can download for more substantial changes. Facetune is one popular one, but there are many, and they can be used to do everything from erase pimples to change the structure of your face or make you look taller.
Rae Jacobson, from the Child Mind Institute, presents the experience of a young woman in the following passage:
The article goes on to describe the problem with this perfectionism is negative social comparison:
Delete Your Social Media Apps From Your Phone
Breaking free from addiction is always harder when theres temptations lurking around. You dont see an alcoholic keep booze in the house while hes still going to his AA meetings, and neither should you keep social media apps I mean if you know youve got a serious compulsion to constantly check your phone. There are some people with milder cases, however, who can handle keeping apps on their phone and just setting time limits, which brings us to our next point.
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Other Dangers Of Addictive Use Of Social Networks
Social media has opened windows to a world of possibilities, it has removed geographic barriers and given us unique opportunities to create near-instant connections with others, Croarkin said.
But physical interactions have also decreased.
Paradoxically, social media can also diminish other important forms of face-to-face communication, reducing opportunities for close bonding, increasing feelings of loneliness in some people, and potentially contributing to conditions such as depression and other emotional problems, Croarkin added. .
They can also create a universe parallel to our real life.
We tend to believe that what we see is real, that all likes represent how people really feel, and that current affairs reflect what most people believe, Prinstein said. All of these are false, but many people, especially children and adolescents, change the way they think and act based on what they see online.
The networks can also quietly break the self-esteem of some people, such as adolescents, who are some of the most affected by their excessive use.
According to research by parent company Facebook, Instagram can have a negative impact on the mental health and body image of teenagers, especially girls.
Facebook has aggressively dismissed the reports, calling many of the claims misleading and arguing that its apps do more good than harm.
It is not about eliminating or removing from your life a social network, a drug, sex, but to make good use of them, he said.
Just As With Smoking People Will Pay To Have Their Behavior Restricted
The average person with Internet access spends 2.5 hours each day on social media, by one estimate, and there are now 3.8 billion social media users worldwide. A natural interpretation of these facts is that social media adds tremendous value to our lives.
But anecdotally and in surveys, many people say they spend too much time on social media. Indeed, in surveys weve conducted, social media and smartphone use are two of the top five activities where people feel that they have self-control problems . Perhaps another interpretation of our heavy social media use is that were addicted.
According to our new study, a randomized experiment involving roughly 2,000 Americans, the truth is somewhere in between: We value social media, but we use more than we think is good for us. Our study finds that about 31 percent of social media use among people in our sample is caused by self-control problems. In other words, if people in our study could choose their preferred screen time in advance instead of scrolling uninhibited in the moment, theyd spend nearly one-third less time on social media.
Many academic fields study addiction, including medicine, psychology, neuroscience and economics, and each has its own well-established way of measuring habit formation and self-control problems. Our study used standard approaches that social scientists have used to study behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use and exercise.
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It Causes Psychological Harm
There are quite a few psychological ramifications, which occur because of the internet and social media usage. One of these issues has taken a national focus because of its influence on suicide rates in teens.
Cyberbullying is prevalent because the perpetrators can hide behind a computer screen or a phone screen. Because much of open internet use is not enforced and traced, much of the activity goes unmitigated. We will never know the true statistics of how many people are bullied on a daily basis.
Neither can we tell how many suffer depression or commit suicide because of this.
Social media addiction has also encouraged many people to become voyeurs. They closely monitor the postings of other users, to get a more intimate awareness of their goings-on.
This sometimes leads to stalking and harassment.
The Machine Always Wins: What Drives Our Addiction To Social Media
Social media was supposed to liberate us, but for many people it has proved addictive, punishing and toxic. What keeps us hooked? By Richard Seymour
We are swimming in writing. Our lives have become, in the words of the author and academic Shoshana Zuboff, an electronic text. Social media platforms have created a machine for us to write to. The bait is that we are interacting with other people: our friends, colleagues, celebrities, politicians, royals, terrorists, porn actors anyone we like. We are not interacting with them, however, but with the machine. We write to it, and it passes on the message for us after keeping a record of the data.
The machine benefits from the network effect: the more people write to it, the more benefits it can offer, until it becomes a disadvantage not to be part of it. Part of what? The worlds first ever public, live, collective, open-ended writing project. A virtual laboratory. An addiction machine, which deploys crude techniques of manipulation redolent of the Skinner Box created by behaviourist BF Skinner to control the behaviour of pigeons and rats with rewards and punishments. We are users, much as cocaine addicts are users.
What is the incentive to engage in writing like this for hours each day? In a form of mass casualisation, writers no longer expect to be paid or given employment contracts. What do the platforms offer us, in lieu of a wage? What gets us hooked? Approval, attention, retweets, shares and likes.
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Billions Have Been Spent Into All Of This To Make Sure You Stay On Their Applications For Long As Possible
Everything discussed has been engineered to keep you addicted.
From the like button to the feed layout, every feature that is available on the application will have served some kind of purpose.
Have you ever thought of why applications like Facebook update their layout so often?
Funny enough, the main reason is that we as humans, want constant new and stimulating information. This is why these designers for applications like Facebook constantly update their applications to keep your attention.
Although we are aware that social media addiction has become a real thing, many do not understand why it is.
Often enough, we feel like we are in control of our own lives, but if I asked you to ignore all social media applications for a month, would it be possible?
Maybe some could, but the majority would struggle, and youd almost get withdrawal symptoms doing so .
In my opinion, social media addiction is a real thing and needs to be managed carefully, especially with many of these tech giants continuously growing everyday.
Recognizing A Social Media Addiction
Although many people habitually use social media, very few are genuinely addicted. To determine if someone is at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask these six questions:
- Do they spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
- Do they feel urges to use social media more and more?
- Do they use social media to forget about personal problems?
- Do they often try to reduce use of social media without success?
- Do they become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
- Do they use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on their job or studies?
A yes to more than three of these questions may indicate the presence of a social media addiction.
A digital detox, a period of time during which someone significantly reduces the time spent using electronic devices such a smartphones or computers, could be a wise precaution. This can include simple steps, such as turning off sound notifications and only checking social media sites once an hour. Other changes can include having periods in the day where there is self-imposed non-screen time, such as during meal times, or leaving the phone in a separate room at night so as not to disturb sleep. This allows for a restored focus on social interaction in the physical world and reduces dependency on networking sites.
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The Aftermath Of Social Media Addiction
So who is left to clear up the mess of the result of social media addiction? Who is now reeling from some abuse or negligence because their spouse, friend or stranger took advantage?
The worse position to be in after going through this is feeling powerless. But you dont have to. There is hope and there are strategies and organizations ready to help anyone suffering from social media addiction.
Just as how in the television show , Quake is the destroyer of worlds, today the same can be said of social media addiction.
But whereas that scenario for Agent Daisy Johnson is from the movies, yours is in real life. And it will take your complete participation and willingness to make things better for you and your family or friends.