When you picture in your mind the impact of social media on our daily lives, one can almost envision a person chained to a computer, both literally and figuratively. Internet users have taken to this modern communication tool as if it was a substitute for water and food.
Not to mention the fact that we are already attached to our Smartphones, social media sites have upped the ante and many users are paying for their overindulgence.
Social Media is one of the prime reasons for low productivity rates in the workplace, and also in your daily life. This has been proven by many extensive studies. However, it has also created a new set of social and behavioral disorders.
One such is a social media addiction.
What is Social Media Addiction?
Already there are terms such as internet addiction disorder (IAD) and now social media addiction is counted among them.
According to Better Help, “Addiction to anything shows a lack of the ability to control impulses, so the excessive usage of anything, such as social media, is considered an impulse control addiction disorder, or impulse control disorder.”
Doctors and other medical professionals in America hold strong opinions on this issue.
Some of them consider extreme social media indulgence as an indicator of a different sickness instead of a legitimate disorder. But, “countries, such as South Korea and China, have already given IAD its own classification.”
Signs of Social Media Addiction
These doctors consider that the factors below make social media addiction a true addiction. They include:
- Lying concerning your social media use
- Relying on social media to alter moods
- Using social media regardless of harmful consequences
- Lack of interest in life activities
- Yearning for additional social media time
- Failing at limiting your social media usage
- Experiencing social media withdrawal symptoms
- Unnatural preoccupation with social media sites
- Spending an excessive amount of times on these sites than intended
Others argue from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, “the term pathological use of electronic media (PUEM) is less emotionally “loaded” and more encompassing than internet addiction. PUEM would permit incorporation of problems related to new electronic technologies without endlessly multiplying psychiatric diagnoses.”
Effects of Social Media Addiction
Even though social media gave us a better way of staying in touch with our family and friends, even if they are thousands of miles away, there are negative repercussions as well.
Because of this improvement in the information, communication and technology, these networks are presently utilized as a way to gauge present and prospective consumer habits, which can possibly influence consumption patterns and market trends.
Nevertheless, this trend released a new type of obsession.
Today, social media and internet fanatics include a clear percentage of Netizens – “citizen of the net.” The University of Chicago released a research that highlighted how Facebook and Twitter, was increasingly more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.
This addiction must be mitigated before it causes even greater consequences than we are seeing now.
The best course for accomplishing this is to understand the effects of social media addiction.
It Causes Lack of Focus
Whether at home, work or in the classroom, having a social media addiction can cause you to lose focus. You will tend to prioritize getting online rather than taking care of the more important tasks in your life.
You tend to want to update your Facebook picture, post a new picture to Instagram, compose a new tweet or see who has liked your picture. This addiction will have you counting the number of people who viewed your video and the number of people who liked your posts.
You might possibly be posting very intimate moments of your life to gain attention or to go viral, rather than sheltering your loved ones from public scrutiny.
If you have picked up a child late from school, left the pot burning on the stove, walked into a pole or closed door because you were constantly on your phone, you might have a social media addiction. And your focus is primarily on what you are doing and not what is going on around you.
Sadly, people who do this run the risk of losing their jobs, harming themselves or dropping out of school.
You Become an Introvert or Anti-Social
The direct influence of social media overindulgence is on your time. If most of your time is spent online, then you have little to no time to do anything else in your life.
You won’t have time to play with your kids.
You won’t have time to spend with your spouse.
You won’t have time to do your job properly.
You won’t have time to get your assignments done.
And you won’t have time to go out and be socially engaged, with your friends and family. All this virtual engagement will impact your emotional intelligence and you become less sensitive to the people around you.
For young children and adolescents, this is truly devastating to the social and emotional development. Their social life is negatively impacted and they never truly develop the correct skills for making and keeping friends.
Not to mention their self-esteem and confidence suffer greatly.
More than half have profiles on various social media sites. “Two-thirds (68%) of teens text every day, half (51%) visit social networking sites daily, and 11% send or receive tweets at least once every day. In fact, more than a third (34%) of teens visits their main social networking site several times a day.”
When you consider the numbers, “one in four (23%) teens is a “heavy” social media user, meaning they use at least two different types of social media each and every day.”
It Causes Psychological Harm
There are quite a few psychological ramifications, which occur because of the internet and social media usage. One of these issues has taken a national focus because of its influence on suicide rates in teens.
Cyberbullying is prevalent because the perpetrators can hide behind a computer screen or a phone screen. Because much of open internet use is not enforced and traced, much of the activity goes unmitigated. We will never know the true statistics of how many people are bullied on a daily basis.
Neither can we tell how many suffer depression or commit suicide because of this.
Social media addiction has also encouraged many people to become voyeurs. They closely monitor the postings of other users, to get a more intimate awareness of their goings-on.
This sometimes leads to stalking and harassment.
The Aftermath of Social Media Addiction
So who is left to clear up the mess of the result of social media addiction? Who is now reeling from some abuse or negligence because their spouse, friend or stranger took advantage?
The worse position to be in after going through this is feeling powerless. But you don’t have to. There is hope and there are strategies and organizations ready to help anyone suffering from social media addiction.
Just as how in the television show Marvels Agents of Shield, Quake is the destroyer of worlds, today the same can be said of social media addiction.
But whereas that scenario for Agent Daisy Johnson is from the movies, yours is in real life. And it will take your complete participation and willingness to make things better for you and your family or friends.
Step Away from the Device
One of the easiest ways to minimize your exposure to social media is to delete the apps from your phone. While they might still be accessible on websites, and your profiles will still be active, deletion shuts down the Smartphone usage greatly.
You won’t have notifications to check and you can find other meaningful things to do with your time.
Unless you work on the computer for 16 hours a day, this is a safe strategy. Set a specific time in the day when you will check your profiles. But once you close out, do not return until that time the following day.
Restaurants are Helping Too
According to the Washington Post, “Some restaurants are now providing discounts to customers who refrain from using their smartphones during a meal. More positive reinforcement strategies like these may well be the way forward in trying to decrease time spent checking social media and to increase time spent engaging in real life.”
Go Cold Turkey with Your Addiction
About five years ago, I personally saw the influence that social media addiction had on my life and took the steps to lessen its influence. Every year, for one month, I refuse to use any social media accounts.
It is not easy. It takes great discipline and commitment. But at the end of the day, it is truly worth it.
I turn off notifications. Deleting the more addictive apps like Facebook is also helpful. The first couple of days are the hardest. I can feel the desire almost physically pulling on me to turn on the device and begin clicking, reinstalling and scrolling through.
However, if you value your friends and family and if you value yourself, you will commit to changing your life and finding freedom from your social media addiction.