Should I Worry About Social Media Addiction?
Social media addiction is a growing concern for many, even if the condition is not yet recognized by medical professionals. As smartphones connect people from around the globe, many are beginning to worry about the drawbacks. People are often glued to their phones, continually refreshing their social media feeds. Is there a point where social media use escalates too far and becomes social media addiction? Is social media addiction even a real condition? If so, who is susceptible, and what are the solutions?
Is Social Media Addiction Real?
The term “addiction” can mean different things, depending on whether you’re speaking in medical terms. According to the DSM-5, social media addiction is not recognized medical condition. Neither is Internet addiction disorder. However, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed Internet gaming disorder (or video game addiction) as a “condition requiring further study”.
While social media addiction may not be medically recognized, many may still struggle to log off their accounts. This is because social media apps are incredibly addictive.
Why is Social Media Addictive?
Sadly, many social media platforms are designed to be addictive. This is largely because of the business model adopted by social media companies. Social media apps are free to use. The companies that run them instead find other ways to make up the money, beyond selling the app for a flat price or subscription service. The most common way, usually detailed in a terms of service agreement, is for the social media platform to collect and sell user data to advertisers. The longer somebody uses a social media app, the more data there is to sell. Additionally, spending more time of social media means advertisers have more opportunities to reach you.
This business model incentivizes social media developers to make their platforms as addictive as possible. Many social media apps take influence from slot machines; Swipe up and have a chance of seeing a new, funny post. As a result, social media can be incredibly addictive.
What are the Signs of Social Media Addiction?
While it’s important to remember that only a mental health or medical professional can diagnose social media addiction, there are some warning signs to watch for. Some warning signs and symptoms of social media addiction may include:
- Using social media apps despite negative consequences.
- Increasing time spent using social media.
- Foregoing social activities and hobbies because of social media use.
- Difficulty reducing the time spent on social media platforms.
If you find yourself exhibiting any of these signs, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your relationship with and usage of social media.
Health Effects of Too Much Screen Time
While social media usage carries its own risk, spending too much time on your phone can carry its own health hazards. One of the big ways that social media use can affect your health is by affecting sleep. Smartphones and electronic screens emit blue light. This type of light can alter your sleep patterns, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. You may also wake up more tired. Too much smartphone use can also affect your social skills. Socializing is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets. If you find yourself foregoing social interactions in favor of social media, you may find your social skills taking a hit.
Smartphone use can also cause anxiety or depression. New research shows that the more likely participants were to use smartphones, the more likely they were to experience increased stress and anxiety. Depression was also noted in many of the papers. While the research is still in the works, it’s clear that smartphone and social media use may be having an affect on mental health.
How to Break Social Media Addiction
It can be difficult to break social media addiction. Smartphones are a common part of modern life. One of the easiest ways to break social media addiction would be to uninstall social media apps from your smartphone. This can be difficult, as the temptation will remain. Additionally, many other sites may use social media accounts as a login.
It may also be helpful try and taper off social media. For example, some believe creating time slots to view social media can help limit the amount of time you spend using the apps. Gradually minimize the length of the time you allow for social media, until you find yourself using social media in acceptable doses. If all else fails, it may be time to consider treatment or counseling for social media addiction.
How to Find Help for Addictive Behaviors
Finding a dedicated addiction treatment program for social media addiction can be difficult. Since the condition is not recognized in the DSM-5, many treatment centers do not have dedicated programs for it. However, speaking with a therapist or counselor can be an excellent first step. There are thousands of counselors who specialize in helping those who struggle with addictive behaviors. Reaching out to one of these therapists can be an important first step in beating social media addiction.