What Is Social Media Addiction?

The internet has made it easier than ever to connect to content, creators, and companions. With so much to do and see online, be it on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or a myriad of other platforms, it can be tempting to get lost in a sea of infinite scrolling and endless notifications. But with almost all pleasures and pastimes in life, there’s a fine line between harmless indulgence and addiction.

It’s been estimated that internet and social media addiction affects over 200 million people across the globe. Often this maladaptive preoccupation with viewing and sharing content online stems from a fundamental dissatisfaction or disconnection with one’s circumstances that fuels a ceaseless cycle of dopamine-driven hunger for more.

Below are just a few questions that could help determine whether or not social media use has risen to the threshold of addiction. Once the problem has been identified, the individual can be empowered to receive treatment and recover from the grip that their phone or computer has taken over their lives.

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Signs Of Social Media Addiction

  • Has virtual socializing come to replace face-to-face interaction in your life or have you come to prefer the former over the latter?
  • Do you begin to feel negative emotions either while using social media or when attempting to cut down or stop social media use?
  • Have you experienced the fallout of excessive social media use in your life, but still persist in the activity anyway?
  • Could your use of social media be described as obsessive?
  • Does social media provide an undue sense of importance or meaning to your life?
  • After a period of abstaining from social media use, do you find yourself returning to social media in the same way an abuser of drugs or alcohol may be unable to stay away from their substance of choice?

An affirmative answer to even one of the questions above may indicate social media addiction. Answering yes to 3 or more could mean the problem has become severe. Of course, every individual and every social media platform is different, but if the underlying trend lines of compulsion have become apparent, it’s time to take action to regain control of your life and of your relationship with technology.

The Effects

Social media addicts have been shown to be less satisfied at work, as well as less able to juggle the demands of their professional lives and their personal lives simultaneously.  It’s almost as if social media takes on the role of a third entity between work and home that comes to steal attention, investment, and enjoyment from the other two.

Students who are afflicted with social media addiction see their grades suffer as a result, potentially affecting their professional future for the remainder of their lives. Mental health tends to be poor when social media use is high. Sleeplessness, low mood, and high stress levels have all been linked to too much time spent online. Low self-esteem has been connected to overzealous internet activity, meaning there’s likely a relationship between having an unhealthy view of oneself and social media addiction.

Ways To Beat Social Media Addiction

Individuals often begin using social media because they feel lonely, because they don’t want to lose touch with old friends, or because they feel bored. Conversely, if one is looking to conquer social media addiction, it can be good to consider the right way to satisfy these key emotional motivators.

Joining a club, church, sports team, or volunteer effort can provide meaningful connection and stimulation. Writing letters to old friends or calling former acquaintances on the phone instead of looking for them on the internet can also help one keep in touch without losing touch with what’s really important in life. Planning a short trip or learning a new hobby can help one feel like one’s life is varied, engaging, and exciting as opposed to a dull routine that one is driven to escape from.

Getting Help With Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction can be formidable. Human beings aren’t built to thrive in solitude, and the continuous search for novel and intriguing experiences is a hallmark of our species. However, there’s no pot of gold waiting at the end of the colorful rainbow of your social media feed: just more loneliness, more craving, and more despair. If you need help breaking the cycle, talk to a treatment provider today about treatment options.

A little connection can go a long way and, with help, a former social media addict can find their life has become exactly what they thought they were looking for online. If you are considering therapy for social media addiction, you can find additional information on online therapy options here.

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William Henken

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  • Will Henken earned a B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Central Florida. He has had his work published in the Orlando Sentinel, and has previous experience crafting copy for political action committees and advocacy groups dedicated to social justice. Addiction and mental health are personal subjects for him, and his greatest hope is that he can give a helping hand to those seeking healthy and lasting recovery.

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