What is social media addiction (SMA)?

You’re not the only one who loses several minutes or even hours at a given time when using social media.

Social media began as a means to stay in touch with family and friends, but it has evolved into an activity enjoyed by people of all ages. Social media may be something you enjoy and use frequently, but would you consider yourself “addicted?”

It’s not possible to diagnose “social media addiction,” but excessive use of social media is becoming more common today. It can have devastating repercussions for both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Discover how to recognise problematic social media usage and what you can do to take action against it.

What is social media abuse?

Social media has become increasingly popular over the past decade, whether you are using it to “kill time”, connect with loved ones and friends, watch videos, or just have fun. It is particularly true for children, teenagers, and young adults. How can a hobby that seems harmless turn into an “addiction?”

Social media use can have a negative impact on your brain, just like other addictive behaviors. Social media may be used excessively and compulsively. You may become accustomed to scrolling past images and videos. This can interfere with your other activities.

Experts estimate that up to 10% of Americans have a social media addiction. Social media addiction is more common than you might think, given how widespread it is. Not all users of social media develop an addiction. Social media is more accessible, but more people could develop an addiction.

Why are social media sites so addictive?

Social media may seem mindless, but it has a profound effect on the brain.

When you use your favorite apps on your phone, the dopamine signal increases in your brain. These neurotransmitters have been linked to pleasure. Your brain will reward you for using social media if you feel more dopamine. This reaction is more likely to be felt when you post your own content and receive positive feedback.

Positive feelings that you experience on social media are temporary. This positive reinforcement can also be seen in other addictive behaviors.

As the dopamine-induced high wears off, the desire to consume more content (in this instance, on social media) will increase. Social media can provide a distraction when you are isolated by work or illness. Your brain will begin to believe that social media can reduce loneliness the more you use it.

What are the negative effects of social media?

Social media usage is not harmful if you do it occasionally. Overusing social media can have negative effects.

The following are some potential downsides to social media:

  • Low self-esteem can be caused by a false perception that other people’s lives are “better”.
  • Increased loneliness and isolation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • FOMO (fear of missing out) can increase social media usage.
  • disturbed sleep patterns, especially if you are on social media just before bedtime.
  • Reduced physical activity can affect your health.
  • Poor grades or poor performance at work
  • Ignoring the relationships that you have in “real” life
  • Reduced ability to empathize with and relate to others

What are the signs of social media addiction?

You can ask a mental health professional to help you determine if you are addicted to social media or just use it a lot.

There are some key differences between a social media addiction and an enjoyable habit. They include:

  • Overuse of social media can have negative effects on your work or studies (e.g., scrolling through apps instead of studying or working at your workplace).
  • Increased use while doing other activities such as eating, hanging out with family and friends, or even watching TV.
  • Increased reliance on social networks as a means to deal with problems
  • Restlessness and irritation when you are not on social media
  • Anger when social media usage is reduced
  • You’ll start using social media as soon as you’re able to.

How can social media be reduced?

You can reduce your social media use, whether you are addicted to it or just using your apps too much.

You can achieve a better balance on social media by following these tips:

  • Delete all social media apps on your smartphone. You can still use them on your computer, but removing them from your smartphone may reduce the time you spend on social media.
  • You should also turn off your phone when you are at school, eating, or doing recreational activities. You can adjust the settings on each social media application to turn off specific notifications.
  • Set aside time each day for social media. Set a timer for accountability.
  • Keep your computer, phone, and tablet out of the bedroom.
  • Consider taking up a hobby that is not tech-related. Sports, art, cooking lessons, etc. are all examples.
  • When you can, make it a priority to visit your family and friends in person.

To help you find a real-life foundation, it’s important to take regular breaks from social media. Your break can be a day per week or a month long, depending on what you need. This is your decision, not the social media account.

Credit: The Web Health & Drugs Discussion Forum

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