It is undeniable that technology has become a significant and overwhelming force in our society in recent years. It is nearly unheard of for someone to go without a cell phone or access to the internet. However, the explosion of technology has had some disturbing effects; people of all different age groups and backgrounds have shown a startling increase in addiction to online activities or video and computer games.
Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction characterized by an excessive concern for social media, an uncontrolled need to log on to or use social media, and investing so much time and effort in social media that it hinders other key life areas.
Technology addiction can vary in severity, ranging from video games and social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, etc.) to cyber-pornography or cyber-gambling. Individuals addicted to various types of technology often choose to spend time in a virtual world rather than interacting in healthy ways with real people and dealing with real-life problems, which therapists describe as an avoidance mechanism. These people commonly suffer from substance abuse and other co-occurring conditions and various underlying issues.
If you suspect yourself or someone you know is addicted to the internet or video games, there are several signs to look for.
If you spend more time online or playing games rather than with people, you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you. At the same time, if being online helps you escape your life and results in a release or soothing thoughts if you neglect your job or household chores or lose sleep because you can’t leave the computer, if you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are not online, or if you are secretive or try to hide how long you’ve been online or playing games, you may have a problem.
Taking a long break from technology and social media can help improve your mental health and allow you to refocus on what is most important to you.
Checking and browsing through social media has grown in popularity over the previous decade. Although most people’s social media usage is not harmful, a tiny minority of users get hooked to social networking sites and engage in excessive or obsessive use. Experts believe that 5 to 10% of Americans now satisfy the criteria for social media addiction. Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction defined by excessive concern about social media, an uncontrolled need to log on to or use social media, and investing so much time and effort in social media that it hinders other key life areas.
Social media is physically and psychologically addictive due to its effect on the brain. According to a new Harvard University study, self-disclosure on social networking sites activates the same brain area that is activated when an addictive drug is used. Decisions and experiences are influenced by the brain’s reward region and its chemical messenger pathways. When someone has a pleasurable experience or consumes an addictive drug, neurons in the brain’s central dopamine-producing regions are stimulated, and dopamine levels rise. As a result, the brain receives a “reward,” The medication or action is associated with positive reinforcement.
Ask these six questions to see whether someone is a danger of acquiring a social media addiction:
- Do they devote a significant amount of time thinking about or preparing to utilize social media?
- Do they have a strong desire to utilize social media more and more?
- Do people utilize social media to distract themselves from personal issues?
- Do they frequently try and fail to minimize their usage of social media?
- Do kids grow agitated or distressed if they cannot utilize social media?
- Do they spend so much time on social media that it interferes with their work or studies?
If you answered “yes” to at least 3 of these questions above, it could be time for a social media and technology detox.
A digital detox, defined as a time in which someone drastically limits the amount of time spent using electronic devices such as cellphones or laptops, might be a prudent precaution. Simple techniques like turning off sound notifications and just visiting social media sites once an hour can help. Other modifications might include having self-imposed non-screen time during the day, such as around mealtimes, or keeping the phone in a separate room at night to avoid disturbing sleep. This allows for a renewed emphasis on a social connection in the actual world while decreasing reliance on social networking sites.
According to Harvard University research, social media has a significant negative influence on chronic users’ emotional well-being and lifestyles, severely damaging their real-life relationships and academic accomplishment.
An estimated 27% of youngsters who spend three or more hours each day on social media have bad mental health symptoms. Because children’s and young people’s minds and social abilities are still growing, excessive usage of social networking sites is far more dangerous. According to research, adolescents who use social media regularly from a young age have drastically impaired social interaction abilities.
If you are having difficulty regulating your social media use and believe you may be hooked, consider why you use social media and what the benefits and drawbacks of your time spent on various platforms have been thus far. To paraphrase a classic saying, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome is irrational. The good news is that it is feasible to reduce detrimental social media use, and you are not alone. We’re all in this together, and having a positive relationship with our social selves and virtual neighbors is quite doable.
It would be best if you always put your well-being first. As soon as you start feeling negative emotions as you scroll social media, browse the internet, or play video games, put down your tech device and go for a walk outside without your phone and enjoy the fresh air.
Get in the habit of balancing your time with work, socializing, and activities, and try new hobbies that don’t involve tech devices to stay in tune with yourself and the world around you.