Social media addiction affects both physical and mental health. Read this article to know more.
Social media is a mode of electronic communication by which we can communicate and share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content to stay connected. It has lost its social context, for which it was designed initially.
More often than not, fictitious characters masquerade as real ones. In the process of concealing their identities, they come to believe that their hidden characters are indeed their real characters. A trained eye can see through this facade, and upon discovering the real identity of the masquerader, one is left disillusioned in the end.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V (DSM-V) will be helpful in diagnosing addiction disorder. Three subtypes of this disorder exist:
Preoccupations with e-mail usage.
It has become fashionable and trendy to describe oneself as a social media addict. This tag comes with its fair share of advantages and numerous disadvantages. On the downhill side, people are anxious that they are not having as much fun as their friends or colleagues in the workplace.
They constantly keep track of what their friends are doing. This newfound anxiety falls under the realm of FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out. That is, these individuals fear that they are missing out on the fun, and so they try to keep compulsive attention on their friends through social media to keep themselves updated about the latest trendier stuff. Taking selfies and uploading them on social networking sites has become the new rage. This constant preoccupation with taking selfies and uploading them on social media platforms falls under the compulsive-impulsive spectrum of a psychological disorder. Individuals afflicted with this disorder keep logging into their accounts to see the number of likes their newly uploaded pictures have got. The ego of the individual was boosted when the number of likes they received increased. Some even go to the extent of comparing the number of 'likes' their picture has got with their friends' pictures.
To begin with, one gets a high from limited online interaction and appreciation. As time passes, one craves more sophisticated softwares, a greater number of social networking sites, and better connectivity. This increased urge makes the individual increase their time and interest in various aspects of the Internet.
Every time someone 'likes' their virtual representation, dopamine spikes through their mesolimbic tract. Abnormal reward processing by the nucleus accumbens (a region in the brain) forms the basis for any addiction.
A recent Turkish study aimed to determine the levels of internet addiction and the various physical and psychological behaviors ensuing from this form of addiction. The results of this study were mind-boggling.
A direct correlation was established between the students' internet addiction scores and the presence of maladaptive behavioral patterns like going late to bed, skipping meals, eating in front of the computer, etc.
This study also looked at the psychosocial ramifications of this newfound rage. Internet addiction has also paved the way for restlessness, anger, palpitations, and tremors. These are nothing but classic withdrawal symptoms.
Such a level of dependence will no doubt affect one's interpersonal relationships with family and friends.
Unfortunately, dependent persons continue to be dependent on their substance (in this case, the internet) despite experiencing physical and psychological repercussions.
Any other type of substance can cause withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, rage, sleeplessness, feelings of chronic dissatisfaction, and hostility.
These negative emotional states are experienced upon being disconnected from the net, a classical sign of the phenomenon of withdrawal.
When we try to address the needs of modern-day society, moguls of cyberspace have had to see a generation of teenagers getting dependent on a newfound medium. All this was unheard of ten years ago. With cut-throat competition in the market and the technology that seems to be advancing, innovators in the realm of cyberspace seem to be racing against time. It is no surprise then that mental health professionals are seeing CEOs, innovators, teenagers, and top leaders battling symptoms of anxiety and depression. The Internet has also given rise to promiscuity and cyberbullying. Psychiatrists have begun to see victims of cyberspace being blackmailed and bullied online.
The WHO predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. The proverb "prevention is better than cure" could not have been applied to a better platform.
Parental Mediation: A drastic shift in the attitudes of modern-day parents is warranted. They should rigidly restrict the screen time of their children. Screen time encompasses the time spent watching television, playing online games, using smartphones and other virtual media. Experts recommend restricting the screen time to less than an hour per day.
Encourage Physical Activity: New-age kids have to battle obesity, which was unheard of in the earlier generation. People who engage in a lot of internet and television usage by staying in the same place for a long time are known to suffer cardiovascular problems like hypertension, myocardial infarction, and endocrine problems like diabetes mellitus. So, we have to stop being lazy, and so we can also start exercising. The 'high' obtained by physical activity exceeds the 'high' obtained by indulging in substance abuse. The body's happy hormones called endorphins are responsible for this.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: In people who are diagnosed with an internet addiction disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy is the first line of treatment that is offered. It involves cognitive restructuring, a process of identifying cognitive errors and correcting them. This can help in bringing about an attitudinal shift in the individual. If errors are identified, an attempt may be made to change the faulty behaviors in the individuals.
Pharmacotherapy: If the withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to cause functional disability and secondary depression, short-term supervised use of antidepressants may be recommended.
Social networking sites are very disturbing. An individual has both advantages and disadvantages. However, the vulnerable teenagers fail to overcome the urge, and so they become the victims of this obsession condition.
Social media addiction is a common problem faced by people of all age groups. It is an addiction related to people's behavior where they are concerned too much about social media and earnestly log on to it by wasting all their time on it.
Yes, social media addiction is a disorder like the internet addiction disorder. Addiction is a compelling stimulant to repeat the activity. Social media addiction has been found to impact the mental health and relationships of those affected.
Social media is so addictive because it provides an easy platform to connect with people quickly, and it is cheaper to access. A study stated that social networking sites light up the same part of the brain that gets lighted by taking drugs or other addictive substances.
It is possible to get rid of social media addiction if you keep yourself disciplined and commit yourself to other useful activities. You can restrict social network activities by setting a time limit, turning off the notifications in your smartphone, and using it only if relevant to work and personal life.
Addiction to social media causes various side effects on people who use it for a prolonged period. It can cause isolation, anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, impractical expectations, and fear of missing something. Social media addiction can make people overlook their daily routine and stay away from their immediate family and friends.
If you plan to get rid of social media initially, you need to decrease the timing of its usage by starting to use it 1.5 hours a day, ten days before your break. And then, seven days prior to your suspension, decrease it to one hour. You can also turn off the notifications from the social network if they disturb you by tempting you to look at it.
Prolonged social media use may cause the degradation of white matter in the brain regions that control emotions and decision making. You will also be accustomed to scrolling through the images, videos, and posts. Positive feedback (likes and comments on posts) in social media platforms stimulates the brain to release dopamine, which also promotes addiction.
People who are addicted aimlessly and pointlessly scroll through the posts to view everything, which is unnecessary. They get restless when they do not check their social media accounts and keep checking if they have missed something even at midnight.
The harmful effects of social media on students are:
- Lack of interest in studies and school works.
- Poor in decision making.
- Low self-esteem.
- Learning bad habits.
By using social media, we also have some positive impacts like,
- Learning new things on the internet.
- Watching educational videos for students.
- It is useful in developing the business.
Instead of scrolling aimlessly on social media sites, you can:
- Meet your friends and talk to them.
- Spend time with your family and relatives.
- You can finish your daily work on time.
- Learn new things in life.
- Read books.
- Be productive.
- Listen to music.
- Try to know about yourself.
- Build your personality.
- Enjoy nature.
Yes, taking a break from social media can bring you positivity by reconnecting you to your family and friends and saving a lot of time.
Students get easily addicted to social media because it is free to sign up, easy to use, and can quickly connect them to their friends, irrespective of how far they are. The students want to know how many likes, comments they get for their profile and how many followers they have to become more popular in society very quickly.
A sudden withdrawal from social media can cause withdrawal syndrome, but with proper guidance and professional help (if required) it is possible to get rid of it.
Last reviewed at:
27 Mar 2021 - 4 min read
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