What causes social media addiction? What are the symptoms and signs of social media addiction? In this article, we will discuss in detail about social media addiction symptoms, causes and why social media is bad.

What is Social Media Addiction

Social Media Addiction is a new type of addiction which can be simply defined as the continuous urge to use social media and using it more than it’s required. A person who is addicted to social media develops a habit of continuously checking and updating posts on social media and spending too much time on it.

Social media addiction signs

Like any other type of addiction, social media addiction is found to be equally dangerous and moreover the lack of information available about this subject makes the situation worse for those who are addicted.

Internet Addiction Vs Social Media Addiction

A very common question which people have is about the difference between internet addiction and social media addiction. Actually Social Media addiction is a form of internet addiction. The increase in the coverage of the internet across the world is giving people access to different social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tik-Tok, etc.

Since almost everyone uses social media nowadays, this makes the number of addicts very high and most of the people addicted are of a very young age. But not everyone who uses social media is addicted to it.

To find whether you are addicted to social media it is important to know what are the signs or symptoms of social media addiction.

Diagnosis of Social Media Addiction

  • Do you sometimes get lost on Facebook or Instagram or any other social networking site and suddenly realize that from last 1 or 2 or even 3 hours you have been just scrolling and liking and commenting on various posts on your feed?
  • And what do you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you open various social media applications and check notifications and posts even before brushing your teeth?
  • Can you stay away from social media for a few days without experiencing any anxiety or stress?

These questions are very important for someone who wants to diagnose whether he/she is addicted to social media.

Symptoms of Social Media Addiction:-

Since this form of addiction has not been medically explored much, there are not any standard signs and symptoms of this problem. But still, from the very limited psychological studies done in this area, we can infer some visible differences between those who are addicted and those who don’t use social media much.   

The following are the symptoms of Social Media Addiction:-

  1. Feeling anxious/ depressed if unable to use social media for a few days. Many social media addicts themselves admit that they cannot live without the internet for even a day.
  2. Checking the notifications of social media apps after every small interval of time. A person who is addicted to social media usually checks his/her phone every 30 minutes or even lesser than this.
  3. Skipping/ delaying/ postponing all the important tasks like bathing, eating or even going to office/ school/ college because of overusing social media. Many of those who are addicted to social media use social media before going to bed and also as soon as they wake up in the morning.
  4. Constantly Monitoring the likes/ comments/ views on social media platforms.
  5. Constantly updating/ posting pictures/ status about everything which one is doing.
  6. Preferring Social Media Platforms over real-life for talking/ communicating/ expressing.

There can be many other symptoms of social media addiction and all have one common thing– an urge to use social media again and again.

Causes Of Social Media Addiction:-

As social media addiction is nothing but over and compulsive use of social media. So to understand what causes social media addiction we need to understand why a person uses social media.

There are 4 main causes of why we people use social media or why social media addiction occurs:-

  1. Escape from Real World
  2. Instant Gratification & Dopamine
  3. FOMO & peer pressure
  4. Social Media is Addictive

1. Escape from the ‘real world’

The most common reason why people overuse social media is that as many of us are bored or stressed in the ‘real world’. Social media provides us with a platform to live in another kind of world known as the ‘virtual world’. In this virtual world, a person has greater control over the society unlike in the real one.

For example, here we can listen or follow only whom we want to and can block all the others whom we don’t like. In real life, a person might be shy and fearful, but on social media, he/she can say whatever he wants and can even abuse or troll if he/she doesn’t agree to someone else’s opinion.

Social media helps people to escape from their busy and stressful routine and allows them to play the role of a different person.

2. Instant Gratification & ‘Dopamine’

If you are not familiar with what dopamine is, then you should simply know that dopamine is a chemical that motivates us to repeat certain activities. Whenever we do an act of pleasure like eating or even consuming some addictive substance, the dopamine is released in our brain, which suggests the brain to repeat the action again and again.

The same chemical is released when we use social media. Social media provides us with unlimited rewards in the form of notifications- likes, comments or shares. This results in release of dopamine which and makes us repeat this behavior again and again. This forces us to desire more likes, comments, and shares.

Dopamine is responsible for many great things in our lives like motivating us to exercise or even to study, but it’s also responsible for our bad habits like various forms of addictions like cocaine, alcohol or even social media.

3. FOMO and Peer pressure

The social media has become so common nowadays that if someone does not use any social media platform he/she is stigmatized or called weird by others. Instead of asking for a phone number or any other details people prefer asking Instagram username.

This forces people who don’t want to use social media to create accounts and use social media so that they don’t miss out anything. This is known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This is very common in teenagers due to peer pressure.

4. Social Media is Addictive!

The fourth reason why people use or overuse social media is that social media is actually addictive. The brains behind social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. have designed social media in such a manner that anyone who starts spending some time gets addicted to them.

Sean Parker, an early investor of Facebook himself admits that Facebook is ‘designed to be addictive’. He says that social media platform like Facebook ‘aims to consume as much as your time and attention’.

So it’s not only your fault that you are addicted to it because these platforms are built in such a manner to trap you.

Why is Social Media Addiction a Problem?

Rain is very important in the growth of certain seasonal crops. But what happens when it rains heavily and results in a flood? All the crops will be destroyed.

Similarly, social media is a great way of connecting with people and sharing our thoughts with the world. But if we use it in excess it can be harmful to us in many ways. It becomes problematic when we ignore the real world and start living in this virtual world.

As almost everyone uses social networking, so it is essential for us to identify whether we are using social media or social media is using us!

Pictures Courtesy- Pixabay & Pexels

Also check how you can spend your time in this lockdown period:-

Productive Alternatives to Social Media During COVID-19 Lockdown

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