Have you heard of the term social media addiction? It always starts with statements like ‘I can not do without social media’, ‘social media is my comfort zone‘, or ‘ I would rather be on social media than interact with people’. Whereas you think it is a cool thing to always interact with people online, I would like to bring to your attention the dangers of social media addiction and how to get rid of it.
Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction that is defined by being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important areas of your life.
Addiction to social media may seem like a simple forte but actually, it will always look much like any other substance use disorder and may include mood modification. You will find that engagement in social media leads to a favorable change in emotional states. You will also experience salience which is behavioral, cognitive, and emotional preoccupation with social media.
You will also discover that you have a high level of tolerance where you will feel the ever-increasing need to make use of social media over time. It is also proven that you will get withdrawal symptoms i.e. experiencing unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms when social media use is restricted or stopped.
Just like when your addicted to intoxicating substances, you will also face a lot of conflict as you will notice that interpersonal problems ensue because of social media usage, and of course you will also face a relapse. This is because addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after a short abstinence period.
How does social media get addictive? You may wonder. Well, the phenomena of social media addiction can be largely attributed to the dopamine-inducing social environments that social networking sites provide. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram produce the same neural circuitry that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible.
Scientific Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites cause the brain’s reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction seen with using drugs like Cocaine. In fact, neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system. Fascinating, right?
Some individuals could even be addicted to social media without even knowing it. Here are the simplest symptoms of social media Addiction and how to get rid of it;
Symptoms of Social Media Addiction
Spending a large amount of time on social media.
As soon as you find yourself always turning to social media whenever you get some free time, do watch out because it seems you are getting addicted to social media. You will find yourself spending a whole lot more time on social media than you always did and every free second you get is used for social media rather than other productive activities.
Thinking about social media often when you’re not using it.
Even when you are not using social media at particular time intervals, you will find yourself compelled to think about it. You could even be going about your day but at the back of your mind, you are thinking of how many messages, likes and comments you are going to find on a particular post that you made before you logged off.
Spending less time doing other activities or hobbies in order to use social media.
As soon as you find yourself cutting down on other activities that you always loved doing just to use social media, then you are addicted to social media. You will discover that your Interest will only be social media rather than other activities that you once found very important and interesting to you.
Spending less time with others in order to use social media.
This is also referred to as withdrawal. As soon as you feel the urge to always be away from other people just to concentrate on social media, it is highly likely that you are addicted to social media.
Using social media to the point that it gets in the way of different areas of your life, like work, school, and relationships.
Putting social media ahead of everything else in your life is a very clear symptom of social media addiction. If you find yourself giving too much attention to social media that you end up neglecting every other aspect of your life, I hate to break it to you but you are addicted to social media.
Experiencing feelings like anxiety and irritability when you can’t access social media.
If you feel anxious when your away from your phone, or generally away from social media, highest chances are that you are having social media addiction.
Using social media as a way to cope with unwanted emotions.
If at certain points of your life, you use social media As an escape from feeling low or unwanted, that kind of dependence is also termed as social media Addiction.
However much Social media addiction isn’t yet recognized as a clinical disorder, many professionals and researchers agree that social media can be addictive for some people. In fact, some researchers consider social media to be as addictive as gambling and shopping.
There are also factors that contribute to social media Addiction. Here are some of the factors that contribute to Social media addiction and how to get rid of it.
Factors that contribute to social Media Addiction
Ability to explore new identities.
Social media allows people to “try on” new identities and share them with the world. For some people, they actually pose as people they are not just to get approval from the World.
Desire to share photos and videos.
Sharing photos and videos on sites like Instagram or TikTok can be gratifying. It gets worse when the videos pull a lot likes, views and comments.
“Fear of missing out”.
People sometimes just have the fear that other people are having positive experiences that they are not a part of so they never want to miss out on these.
Experts believe that some people develop anxiety around not having their phones 24/7. This condition has been linked to excessive internet and social media use.
With an ever-increasing number of platforms, from Facebook to TikTok, social media plays a large role in many of our lives. But for some people, social media use may become problematic.
Sadly, there are no medications approved to treat social media addiction.
Medications however may help address any underlying mental health conditions. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or other types of medications could be helpful. Dig deeper with me as we explore social media addiction and how to get rid of it.
How to get rid of social media Addiction.
Therapy is often the best way to treat behavioral addictions like social media addiction. Because social media is relatively new, treatment options are still quite limited. A lot more research is needed to discover variable ways to help people control their addiction to social media.
The good news is, there is something called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is usually used to treat internet addiction, and it can help treat social media addiction. CBT may be offered in an individual or group setting. The key parts of CBT include Understanding how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related, Identifying and changing negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to unwanted behaviors, and Teaching coping skills to manage unwanted feelings which foster the addiction
Do a digital detox.
A digital detox generally means abstinence from digital material. This means you should try to abstain or stay away from using social media for at least 12 hours (it could be more hours). In other words, Try to cut back on how often you’re on social media by checking it only once or twice per day.
Limit the time you spend on social media.
One of the best ways to prevent addiction is to set limits on how much time you spend on social media. Try to limit yourself to 30 minutes per day or even less. If you find that you’re spending more time than that, try to reduce your usage time even further. You can also set limits by only using social media at certain times of day, or on certain days of the week.
There are a few different ways to set time limits for social media use and one of the most effective ways is to use a timer. Set the timer for the amount of time you want to spend on social media, and when it goes off, stop using social media immediately. Another way is to download an app that will track your social media usage and limit your access to it once your usage time has elapsed.
Refrain from using social media when you feel low.
If you’re feeling sad, angry, or anxious, avoid using social media. These emotions can make the addiction worse. Remember that Social media can also be a trigger for these emotions, and it can also make them worse.
Instead, if you’re feeling down, try to do something else that will make you feel better, such as talking to a friend, going for a walk, or listening to music.
Turn off notifications on your devices.
Notifications are also a temptation when it comes to social media addiction. A notification is more like a sneak peak at the content that is embedded within social media. Once you receive the notification, you will find yourself feeling the urge to check the entire message. Once you turn off notifications, you will realize that temptation to open the messages is very low hence curbing social media addiction.
Start a new hobby to help keep your mind off social media.
Whenever you feel the urge to use social media, try to do something else like exercising your body instead. For example, if you’re bored, instead of scrolling through social media, try reading a book or taking a walk.
If you’re feeling lonely, instead of looking at other people’s lives on social media, try calling a friend or family member. And if you’re choosing to have a hobby instead of scrolling through social media, try focusing on the task at hand. By finding other activities to do, you can avoid using social media altogether.
Try exercising your body.
When you are addicted to social media, you may be neglectful of real things and friends. At the same time, your eyesight and cervical spine will inevitably suffer when you are engaged in social media for a long time because of your excessive online behavior with your cell phone and computer.
Proper physical activity can help you engage in real life smoothly, and the right intensity of exercise can also make your body get a good stretch as well. Not only will you be keeping healthy but also avoiding overuse of social media.
Running is a perfect starting exercise for most people because it doesn’t require a long-term exercise base. Hitting the gym is also not a bad idea, right?
“In a world of algorithms, hashtags and followers, know the true importance of human connection.”ANONYMOUS
The importance of human connection can only be realized when you value the real people around you rather than the virtual ones you do not see. In order to do this, take note of social media Addiction and how to get rid of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is more addicted to social media?
Around 70% of teens and young adults in the United States have a social media addiction. The average person spends 1 hour and 40 minutes per day on social media. Over 50% of Americans aged 30-49 have a social media addiction. Over 60% of men and over 55% of women are also addicted to social media.
How does social media affect your brain?
The study findings suggest that checking social media repeatedly among young teens ages 12 to 13 may affect how their brains develop over a three-year period. The brains of adolescents who checked social media often for example more than 15 times per day, became more sensitive to social feedback.
How many hours of social media usage is considered addiction?
Research shows that people that spend over 5 hours a day on social media are considered “addicted”. Some teenagers spend up to 9 hours on social media every single day! That is considered addiction.
Is social media addiction treatable?
Yes. Social media addiction is treatable with therapy and behavior modification. Keep in mind however that due to social media addiction not yet being formally recognized as a diagnosable condition, many insurance companies and other managed care organizations do not offer reimbursement.
Is social media addiction considered a mental illness?
No. According to research, social media addiction is not recognized medical condition. Neither is Internet addiction disorder