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Signs of Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction has a proven link to mental health disorders, low self-esteem, isolation, and unhappiness. “Social media has many positive and enjoyable benefits, but it can also lead to mental health problems” has been stated in the article Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review.

In addition, as with any addiction, misuse, or abuse of a substance, in this case, social media can lead to unhealthy thought processes and induce the harmful habit of comparing oneself with others. Therefore, anxiety and depression are 2 mental health disorders linked with self-dissatisfaction due to excessive social media use. This addiction is comparable to addictions like gambling and shopping.  

Undeniably, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms portray innumerable posts of perfect people with perfect lifestyles. This causes most people to feel inadequate, jealous, and even suicidal because they will never be that perfect.

In addition, a social media addiction can harm mental health by instilling a negative perception of oneself and producing a form of social anxiety. In some cases, social media instills a fear of missing out on social events, celebrations, and fun nights. As media users scroll through pictures posted of these social activities, they feel no one missed them, or it doesn’t matter that they did not attend.

What is Social Media Addiction?

Today everyone from pre-teens to seniors is on their phone, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms. Likewise, many are glued to a desktop in their homes, scrolling through social media platforms from morning until night. Social media can be entertaining, but when priorities change, and social media becomes more important than any other lifestyle factor, including relationships, it may be a social media addiction.

Psychologists estimate 5 to 10% of people on social media have a behavioral addiction. Social media addiction is similar to a substance use disorder. Consequently, social media addiction connects to developing mental health issues and damages real-life close relationships.

A study by Harvard University recognizes social media’s detrimental effect on the emotional well-being of chronic users. Finally, when the desire for face-to-face interaction dwindles, someone may have developed an addiction to social media. 

Signs of Social Media Addiction 

Behavioral addictions include gambling, shopping, sex, and now social media. Unfortunately, substance use disorders share some signs and symptoms with behavioral addictions but can have different consequences.

Furthermore, social media addiction can develop a tolerance, producing intense cravings for more scrolling to feel good. The withdrawal symptoms of a social media addiction include irritability and anxiety with no access to social media. Substance use disorders have results that contain financial or legal problems.

Do I Have A Social Media Addiction?

Is it a habit or a social media addiction? Those who can answer yes to 3 of the following questions may indicate the development of a social media addiction. 

  • Do you spend much time thinking about or planning to use social media?
  • Do you feel an urge to use social media more and more?
  • Does using social media help to forget personal problems?
  • Have you ever tried to use social media less and failed?
  • When taken away from social media, do you feel restless or anxious for any reason?
  • Has your use of social media harmed your job, studies, or relationships?

Certain behaviors can indicate the presence of social media addiction. Denial may be present if you recognize the following behavior pointers and can’t believe you have a problem. Denial is often a problem with those experiencing a substance use disorder. Be truthful and take action. Reach out for help if you recognize these behaviors as your own. 

  • The first action taken each day is to check social media. The first thing you do when you come home from work is check social media. You continue to scroll through social media before going to bed.
  • You check your social media on the job.
  • When you cannot check social media, you feel anxious and restless. 
  • You continually check the likes and views on your posts. 
  • It is a priority to plan your posts and begin overthinking what you view.
  • You continually pick up your phone because you thought you heard a notification. 
  • You cease working on hobbies, participating in a conversation with loved ones, and ignoring responsibilities to scroll through social media. 

How It Affects the Brain

Social media is both psychologically and physically addictive. Moreover, a Harvard University study gives a clear message depicting the effects of social media addiction on the brain. The study states that individuals discussing their social media use affect the same brain areas that substance use affects. The brain’s reward center, ruled by increased dopamine levels, affects decision-making and sensations. Therefore, social media addiction fuels dopamine production in the brain, increasing the desire to scroll through more posts. 

A simple sound notification on a smartphone can cause the brain to receive a dopamine rush, which in turn causes feelings of happiness and pleasure. In addition, social media addiction provides innumerable rewards in a continual flow with little effort, making it even more desirable. Emojis, likes, tweets, and comments reinforce the benefits and spur a continuation of viewing and little control over the ability to stop. As a result, instant positive reinforcement will stimulate more dopamine release and more social media usage. 

One of the most compelling concepts involving social media addiction is that the brain’s reward centers stimulate the most when people talk about themselves. For example, in the real non-virtual world, people talk about themselves 30 to 45% of the time. In comparison, in the social media world, people talk about themselves 80% of the time. Again, the reinforcement of believing people accept all comments, pictures, and beliefs increases dopamine production, increasing the need for more. 

Detoxing from Social Media Addiction

As strange as it sounds, digital detox for social media addiction involves significantly reducing time spent on electronic devices; for example, setting controls to turn off sound notifications to begin the process. In addition, a controlled environment only allowing a five-minute phone check per hour can start separating from social media.

The plan includes using tablets, smart TVs, desktop computers, and other technological methodologies. Finally, the detox steps further into leaving the smartphone in another room at night when it is time to sleep. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that offers behavioral and decision-making changes to reduce technology and social media use. Exploring thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to understand how social media meets one’s needs is essential. Learning new coping mechanisms for staying away from social media is the goal of the therapy. Once therapy is complete, social media addiction must not reactivate to avoid a relapse. 

Get Help for Behavioral Addictions in California

After discovering that social media addiction is a tangible form of addiction and treatment is available for recovery, Harmony Place in California offers a safe environment to speak to a professional about your concerns. Social media addiction negatively affects close relationships, such as friends and families. It is so difficult to comprehend that everyone seems to be using it.

We offer successful treatment; contact us