Checking and scrolling through social media has become an increasingly popular activity over the last decade. The Internet has helped man in several ways and has made our lives easier and better. But overuse of this network can lead to its addiction. 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.
Social media addiction is a proposed form of psychological or behavioral dependence on social media platforms. According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. The reward area in the brain and its chemical messenger pathways affect decisions and sensations. When someone experiences something rewarding or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement.
There’s still no official medical recognition of social networking addiction as a disease or disorder. Yet the cluster of behaviors associated with heavy or excessive use of social media has become a subject serious discussion and research. No matter how old you are or what background you have, you could find yourself addicted to social media. It is a growing problem that can lead to depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and much more. Whenever you see a notification on the social media sites, your brain releases a small amount of dopamine. This makes you feel better on a chemical level. Aside from all the negative posts on social media, the cyberbullying, and the FOMO (fear of missing out) that exists, recent studies indicate that excessive social media use not only leads to poor decision-making, but people who use social media incessantly often have attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors that mimic those of a drug addict.
Signs indicating that you might be addicted to social media:
• Spending a lot of time, when you’re not online, thinking about social media, or planning to use social media.
• Feeling urges to use social media more and more over time.
• Using social media to forget about personal problems.
• Getting restless or troubled on not being able to use social media.
• Negative impact on your job, relationship, or studies due to excessive use of social media.
Try these methods to get rid of the social networking addiction:
•Limit the times when of checking your social media accounts in the day. (only after work, at least an hour before bed, etc.)
•Talk to people on the phone call instead of texting or using private messages.
•Avoid social media entirely when you’re out with friends or family members.
•Encourage your friends to “unplug” themselves when you go out together so you can truly enjoy your time with one another.
•Work with professional addiction counseling if you find it difficult and are struggling way too much to overcome your addiction.