There have been many debates on whether we can be addicted to social media, quite possibly by our seemingly absent ability to put our phones down. As more and more research is conducted and more data can be collected from social media sites, there is a firm understanding that someone can be behaviorally addicted to social media.
But, what does that mean?
This piece will take a look at how someone can be addicted to social media and what the signs might be.
Defining Social Media Addiction
Like any addiction, social media can create an emotional dependence on it, which can start to cause problems in daily life. As a relatively newly classified addiction, but not a new concept, social media addiction falls under a behavioral dependence. This is essentially where someone is compelled to engage in behavior that is rewarding to the brain. When engaging in these compulsive activities, the brain releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, responsible for pleasure and satisfaction, and serotonin which is responsible for regulating mood. These neurological responses are what make repeating the actions so compelling.
Signs of Social Media Addiction
Like many addictions, there can be some tell-tale signs of someone suffering from social media addiction. Some of these include;
Anxiety at being away from social media
Those who are addicted to social media will experience the anxiety that comes with many other addictions. The absence of social media can be distressing, and for those who have no means of accessing it could feel extremely uncomfortable or even irrational. These are standard responses for those who are separated from something they are dependent on.
Checking notifications the moment they come through
That little noise your phone makes is related to a message or a “like” ignites a Pavlovian response in our brain, which tells you to reach for your phone immediately for the likelihood of gratification. This is a consistent cycle of stimulus and reward, which can be extremely difficult to break.
Your life is dictated by how it looks on social media
It is not uncommon to take a look around a bar, museum, or a restaurant to see others snapping away. Selfies, pictures of food, selfies with food – you name it. Don’t forget a little snippet on the story feature too, just so everyone else is sure they are having a great time.
Unfortunately, there is a significant chance that they are not having a great time. Maybe the lighting is not right, or the angles are all wrong. Maybe the meal didn’t come out looking as promised! Whatever it is, those who are addicted to social media can be far more focused on what their life looks like, rather than what they are experiencing.
For those who are young and experiencing this addiction to the detriment of their life, Ignite teen treatment could help.
Social Media Addiction – is Treatment Available?
Like most addictions, cutting off access to the source is both the easiest and the hardest path to recovery. Cutting off social media can be difficult if there are work obligations, but past that, disabling apps, setting time limits, going on a social media detox, and disabling notifications can all contribute to overriding a social media addiction.