Friday, July 12, 2024

Why Is Social Media So Addictive

Does Social Media Isolate Us

Why Social Media Is Addictive

It depends on how you use it.

Facebooks mission is to Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. But is social media actually bringing us together?

As a sociologist, I took a look at the research. Here is what I found:

Social media use is correlated with depression and low well-being. Yes, this conclusion itself sounds depressing, but lets take a look at the data.

A 2016 study surveyed 1787 19-32-year-old men and women, finding social media use was was significantly associated with increased depression.

Another 2016 study found the following:

Taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive.

Internet use is correlated with decreased loneliness among older adults. So its more complicated than the above studies might suggest.

According to this 2015 study looking at individuals 65 and older:

Higher levels of Internet use were significant predictors of higher levels of social support, reduced loneliness, and better life satisfaction and psychological well-being among older adults.

How you use social media makes a difference. According to another 2016 study on the correlation between Facebook and well-being, the researchers found:

Specific uses of the site were associated with improvements in well-being.

So what made the difference?

Another 2016 study found the same for Instagram:

All Leisure Time Is Spent Online

It is normal to spend time online. However, if to do that, you are refusing to attend outdoor activities, meeting with friends, and such, you may want to look into ways on how to manage social media addiction.

MentalUP is one of the most productive ways to utilize your childrens spare time. It has many educational and entertaining games, and it allows you to track your childrens progress. You can also set time limits, which will make it easier to supervise.

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.

Also Check: What Makes People Addicted To Drugs

Communication Is To Be Human

One cannot not communicate is one of the reasons adopted in social and clinical psychology. The social world is socially constructed through interactions between people: roles, rules, categorisations, stereotypes, normality, deviance are results of human sharing, the outcome of our being humans.

Social networks have the power to amplify this human nature. They have broken the barriers of distance and time, of presence and visibility. They expand the possibilities of sharing and playing identities. They fulfil the most deeply human need of finding a psychological distinctiveness and self-definition in a social context.

They become stages where observing, examining, take part to the social staging the script interpreted is made by interactional dynamics, social rules, emotions and so on

Social Media Creates A Vicious Cycle Of Addiction

Why is Social Media so Addictive?

Excessive social media use creates undesirable mood swings and behavioural changes stemming from interpersonal problems fuelled in the first place by social media. These interpersonal problems include strained relationships, unstable work or school life and poor physical health.

To get rid of this bad mood guess what people turn to. Social media! When people turn to social media regularly to feel better it creates an increased psychological dependency on such apps and sites.

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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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Are Teens Addicted To Social Media

Teen Social Media Addiction

76% of Teens Engage in Social Media 71% are on Facebook, 52% on Instagram, 41% on Snapchat, 33% use Twitter and 14% are on Tumbler. 77% of Parents Say Their Teens Are Distracted By Devices When They Are Together. 50% of Teens Believe They Are Addicted To Their Mobile Device.

Read Also: How Many People Get Addicted To Drugs

Social Media Addiction Effects

As always, children and teens addicted to social media are more vulnerable to their effects.

Below are the physical and mental effects of addiction to social media that teens can experience. You may have already observed some of them in your child, but dont worry. We will also explain how you can overcome them.

Addicted To Social Media

Why Social media is So Addictive

The use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tinder has become the cornerstone of modern communication and connection as it allows users to create a sense of belonging and redefine their way of being. Despite the many positive benefits and impacts of these sites, the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has reignited discussions about the place of social media and social networking sites in our lives.

From a mental health perspective, concerns have been raised about the negative impact of excessive use of social networking sites on the health and wellbeing of users, especially that of young people, who are enthusiastic users of this technology. Back in 2011, Dr. Daria Kuss and I were the first academics to systematically review the scientific literature on excessive social media use. Although there were few studies at the time, we did find that for a small minority of individuals there was a significant detrimental effect on many aspects of their life, including their real life relationships and academic achievement among those still in education. We argued that such signs are indicative of addiction.

If you want to check whether you may be at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask yourselves these six simple questions:

References and further reading

Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. M. . How phubbing becomes the norm: The antecedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 9-18.

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Internet Addiction Is Real

What defines an addiction? A general understanding of addiction involves substance abuse and maladaptive behaviors like gambling, shopping, and hypersexuality.

What these behaviors and substances all have in common is the release of dopamine into the brain. When dopamine levels rise they reinforce the pleasure feeling that will allow individuals to continue seeking the activity. This is the strategy many Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat used to market and hook many users.

As described by research technician Trevor Haynes at Harvard Medical School,

Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that rewarding social stimulisuch as laughing faces , positive recognition by our peers, messages from loved onesthese activate the same dopaminergic reward pathways.

Humans seek social interaction and thrive in these settings while seeking validation from others. When you share a post it is expectant that individuals visit your post, and/or like it.

This leads to a notification that alerts you of the recent activity on your post where others have acknowledged your ideas and opinions.

How To Break Social Media Addiction

Do others ask you to put your phone down? Do your children comment that youre never available? Do you ever miss or are late for activities because you were on social media? Are your children getting in trouble at school because of it?

Once you admit you have a problem, you must follow recovery steps as soon as possible. It does not mean that you have to abstain from social media entirely, but setting limits can be a better idea the controlled use of the internet.

You may be able to break a social media addiction by

  • Setting the limit to your time spent on social media and stick to it. Nowadays, many phones have this feature to show phone use by default.
  • Going on a cleanse, deleting apps
  • Disabling the push notifications and lessen the urge to constantly check your feed.
  • Dedicating time to other hobbies or activities.
  • Do something productive like walking, reading a book, exercise, etc.
  • Identify your buddies away from home. Spend more time with them in person.
  • Speaking to a trained professional can be a good option if you are confused about your addiction status.

Remember, its you who is responsible for your well-being. Set your goals, share with your family or a friend so that they can check in with you about it.

Breaking habits alone can be difficult and takes along. Have patience and live in the moment instead of living to occupy your social media feed.

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Whats Happening In Your Brain

Although it seems harmless, recent evidence suggests that social media use activates the same reward centers in the brain triggered by addictions to chemical compounds.

Even though we are not consuming a chemical, compulsive social media use can be classified as an addiction. So if social media use can be classified as an addiction, what does it do to your brain?

Recent neurological research points to the importance of the brains reward-circuit. Meshi et al. used functional neuroimaging data to uncover the impact of Facebook use on the nucleus accumbens the brains pleasure-center within the reward-circuitry:

reward-related activity in the left nucleus accumbens predicts Facebook use.

Also, they found gains in reputation to be the primary reward stimulus. The brains mechanism for processing self-relevant gains in reputation through Facebook use mirrors the reward circuitry activated through addiction to psychotropic substances.

According to Polk , addiction fundamentally results from a prediction error in the brain. When the nucleus accumbens is stimulated beyond an expectation, the ventral tegmental area releases dopamine, encouraging learning, as held by the Rescorla-Wagner model. Polk emphasizes the role of dopamine as a neurotransmitter associated with craving and reward expectation, putting individuals at risk of compulsive behaviors when reencountering a trigger associated with the potential reward.

What Does Addiction Do To The Brain

Why is Social Media so Addictive?

Addiction impacts the brain on many levels. The chemical compounds in Stimulants, Nicotine, Opioids, alcohol, and Sedatives enter the brain and bloodstream upon use. Once a chemical enters the brain, it can cause people to lose control of their impulses or crave a harmful substance.

When someone develops an addiction, the brain craves the reward of the substance. This is due to the intense stimulation of the brains reward system. In response, many users continue use of the substance this can lead to a host of euphoric feelings and strange behavioral traits. Long-term addiction can have severe outcomes, such as brain damage, and can even result in death.

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Lets Dig A Bit Deeper Into The Behavioral And Cognitive Side Of Things

As we discover new information or read something of interest, our brain is rewarded with a small burst of dopamine. This pleasurable feeling is often associated with what could be guised as positive reinforcement.

This positive reinforcement has trained us to react to notifications by checking our phones, often in anticipation of something interesting.

More than often, we are disappointed to see something unrelated hit our phones, but that is enough to keep us curious to check the next notification that pops by.

This method of keeping us sticky to these applications follow a learning process called a variable schedule reinforcement .

In short and in this particular context, these reinforcements could both be a positive one or one that you werent interested in . However, in either case, this brings you constantly back on your phone without you realizing it.

Even if you disable your sounds, you still see a red bright notification on your application, which almost always prompts you to check it.

What makes it even more interesting is you never actually know when these notifications will pop up. This reinforcement of behavior makes us re-engage these applications out of almost necessity.

Why This Matters To Marketers

What worked a year ago in social doesn’t work today. Brands are not in the position of power anymore end users are. Marketers need to get more internal its about the psychology of a social users motivations .

Are you looking to run interactive social campaigns? Forget consumption of content, base it on experiences and actions.

Todays marketer addresses the psychological needs of the customer. The social space has changed user decisions and actions are driven by continually fluctuating psychological needs and motivators.

The DX Summit conference features the latest on digital customer experience. For more major digital experience topics, speakers and more, visit

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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.

The Brain Addiction And Withdrawal

Why Social Media is so Addictive?

As a consequence of drug addiction, the brain rewards the harmful behavior. It encourages drug addiction, keeping the individual in a cycle of highs and lows the user may feel like theyre on an emotional roller-coaster, feeling desperation and depression without their substance of abuse. Once someone suddenly stops using, there are harsh mental, physical, and emotional results. Individuals may experience distressing symptoms they cannot ignore for some substances withdrawal symptoms are generally stronger for some substances than others.

At the point of withdrawal, someone who stops using Heroin experiences intense cravings, depression, anxiety, and sweating. Much of this is due to the rewiring of the brain after extended Heroin use. In this stage, the individual may not have a full-blown addiction a tolerance or dependency may have developed, however. Over time, the high volume of chemicals floods the brain the brain correspondingly adapts to the mental effects of the substance. The brain then reduces its production of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms often need professional treatment, which can significantly help reduce the chance of relapse and the risks of stroke and heart attack.

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Stay Away From Your Devices

Commonly, social media addiction goes hand in hand with nomophobia or phone addiction. To prevent developing several addictions, put a distance between you and your mobile devices.

An excellent way to avoid using your phone is to use it only for verbal communication. Need to send an email? Use your computer.

Need to set an alarm? Get an actual alarm clock. Relying on your phone less will prevent you from needing it more.

Teens Know Theyre Addicted To Social Media How To Help Them Cut Back

If students want to fight their social-media addiction, what can I do to help them?

Some young people dont think they have a problem, but even those who do struggle with cutting back. New research shows a promising directionheres something I wrote recently about the topic for Character Lab:

How do you convince a teenager to kick their Instagram habit?

You might point out that cutting back on social media may help them sleep. Or that what they post in private might become public later.

But as a rule, teenagers dont enjoy adults telling them what to do or thinkso this approach can backfire.

Heres an idea that new research shows can be effective: harnessing a teenagers need for independence.

Recently, my colleagues and I showed teenagers the many tricks social-media companies use to make their platforms irresistible and how this scheme drives their advertising revenue. For example, the pull-to-refresh design mimics slot machines, and the thrill of someone liking a post keeps people coming back for more.

We also shared national data showing that half of American teenagers report feeling addicted to their phones. Armed with this information, the teens could see controlling their own social-media use as a way to reclaim independence from these companiesand to demand less-addictive technology.

Dont lecture teens about the consequences of too much social-media use. They likely already know, and it doesnt change their behavior.

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