Social media started as a way to connect friends and family but has quickly developed into a more complex network of marketing, advertisement, information, and more. Even today, logging on to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or TikTok can be a great way to stay in touch and enjoy entertainment. Social media use is mostly unproblematic, but it can become an unhealthy addiction that affects an individual’s attitude and behaviors for some people.
Social Media Addiction
Overuse of social media and a constant need to check in online causes individuals to spend much of their time scrolling, engaging, and posting on these platforms. Social media addiction is an impulsive behavioral addiction that can have the same psychological effects as substance addiction. Those with social media addiction may wish to be online when completing daily tasks and may even prioritize viewing content on social media over responsibilities.
Symptoms of a social media addiction include:
- Spending a lot of time thinking about or planning to use social media
- Experiencing increasing urges to use social media more
- Using social media to escape personal problems
- Feeling pressure to represent a perfect or manipulated presence online
- Trying to reduce the use of social media without success
- Not reducing the use of social media even if it has a negative impact on life
- Becoming restless or troubled if not able to access social media
How Social Media Impacts the Brain
This addiction can be similar to substance use disorder (SUD) because social media users feel a euphoric rush when they receive a like on a post or picture but may also suffer feelings of inadequacy from comparing themselves to other people on the platform. More specifically, social media use in those addicted can ignite the dopamine center of the brain, making users feel rewarded and satisfied. Once they feel this rush of pleasure, it can be difficult to resist for some.
Social media can supply consistent dopamine release because it allows users to feel these rushes anytime they receive social audience engagement like mentions, tags, likes on pictures. It can be an easy way to receive positive attention that an individual may not be receiving in their everyday lives, and the more a person posts, the more significant presence they have.
The Impact of Social Media Addiction
Even though social media can supply a vast amount of positive attention, it can also bring negative attention as well. As social media grew from startup, cyberbullying did as well. Cyberbullying is when an individual insults, threats, or ridicules a person online through comments, private messages, or their own posts. Individuals with social media addictions maybe even be more impacted by these negative comments because they put so much importance and effort into their presence online.
Apart from cyberbullying, constantly viewing highlight reels of other people’s lives can lead to a pattern of unfavorable comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Individuals with an addiction to social media may become their own bullies of sorts by telling themselves they will not match up to others online, which lowers self-esteem.
There is no denying the link between social media use and adverse mental health. Social media platforms offer a flawless look into an individual’s life, so users can quickly begin to feel as though their raw, unfiltered lives will never match up. FOMO — or the “fear of missing out” — is a common feeling individuals experience when looking at social media and seeing pictures from parties, vacations, or events they were not invited to; this instills a feeling that they are not living their life to the fullest.
These feelings of low self–worth from comparison and receiving negative comments can contribute to deeper mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Comparing oneself can develop into perfectionism, which is a contributing factor to social anxiety and eating disorders.
Thankfully, there are treatments and effective practices available to those suffering from an addiction to social media. Individuals may benefit from a social media detox, where they deactivate or delete social media apps from their devices for a period of time. This can help gain a better sense of reality and encourage connecting to the things happening in the present or in person. To relieve boredom during this stage, individuals can find new activities to spend their time like going outdoors, picking up a new hobby, or finding new television shows to watch.
Allowing social media use only at scheduled times in the day, like after work or at lunch, can help individuals gain control of their lives. Also, limiting use closer to bedtime will allow for a better night’s sleep.
If an individual has attempted to detox from their use of social media and implement a viewing schedule but still feels as though they cannot control their social media addiction, they could benefit from professional treatment for this disorder and the impact it has on their mental health.
In professional treatment for social media addiction, individuals are provided a safe environment to share how the addiction has impacted their lives and the views they hold of themselves. Uncovering this affords them a better understanding of how it has affected their ability to engage in the real world.
Those suffering from social media addiction could also benefit from the same therapies provided to individuals with substance addictions.
These therapies include:
Social media addiction can psychologically and emotionally impact an individual’s life similarly to substance addiction by engaging the dopamine center in the brain while also negatively impacting their self-worth. Laguna Shores Recovery provides evidence-based therapeutic modalities that treat the lasting effects of substance addiction and any co-occurring disorders. Call us today to learn more at (866) 229-9923.