Second Mindset Talk: Are you addicted to social media? Read to find out
A lot has changed since technology engulfed the world. In the past, not everyone had access or could afford to buy sophisticated gadgets and internet connections, but now everyone, including young children, seems to be fascinated with them. Social media platforms are an important part of today’s cyber world. More and more social networks appear every day for us to log in, create profiles and connect with others. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many others seem to have consumed the world as we know it.
Samar Hafeez, a Psychologist and a certified holistic health coach says that using social media is addictive like any other addiction. For example – addiction to drugs, alcohol, nicotine or gambling, all of these are always accompanied by mood swings.
Social media promotes dopamine production
Dopamine is a “feel good” chemical that is released during pleasurable activities and strengthens us to seek out pleasurable activities in the future. The social media environment promotes dopamine production and initiates the internal reward system. With every like, tweet, follower/fan, good comment, emoji, the brain receives a release of dopamine that activates reward pathways in the brain. A behavior that is rewarded always lasts longer. Positive reinforcement is desired over and over and makes people wish for more likes, favorable tweets, emojis overtime.
For some people, social media can be a form of coping mechanism. People who lack emotional and psychological support often turn to social media to meet their needs. In addition, stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety contribute to over-reliance on social networks. In addition, people who are too shy and timid to easily relate to their colleagues are also among those at higher risk. Furthermore, peer pressure and expectations also put someone at risk of addiction.
Excessive and obsessive social media use linked to depression, fear of missing out
(FOMO), poor sleep quality, anxiety, feelings of isolation and inadequacy and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. In recent studies, younger users who spend most of their time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms have been shown to have higher rates of reported depression than those who spend less time. In addition, people who had experienced depression found their symptoms worse after using social media platforms, thus reinforcing the continuing vicious cycle.
As the use of the internet and social media becomes more and more prevalent in today’s world, the question of how much is too much naturally arises. It must be understood that when the widespread, compulsive use of these platforms is such that it interferes with your day-to-day functioning at school, work, and personal fronts, and causes significant stress in the workplace. your daily life, you may be using it a lot too. It is always better to recognize a problem early, so that its intervention is a complete success.
Here’s what you can do:
At first, it may seem like a fun and harmless way to connect with friends, colleagues, and family. Over time, its bad effects on the human psyche have escalated. Cyberspace has made life a lot easier by making information more accessible and by creating connections with people across the globe. However, this convenience carries the risk of addiction, so here’s what you can do-
1. Check if you are too preoccupied with social media (Continually think about its past and future use)
2. Ask yourself if you need to be online longer to be satisfied
3. Check if you feel happier when using social networks and vice versa, also check if you feel moody, sad, irritable or restless when you stop or reduce internet use social or not.
4. Make sure you don’t hide your social media usage from your family and friends
5. Ask yourself if social media acts as an escape from real life problems
6. Consider (if any) unsuccessful attempts to regulate or limit the use of social networks
7. Do you have feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, anxiety, memory problems, poor concentration and attention, stress, mental exhaustion and confusion related to social media
8. Do you often have severe headaches, neck pain, blurred or nervous vision, sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
9. Check if your preoccupation with social media is hindering your work, academic performance, and personal relationships in any way. Check to see if other people around you have commented on your use of social networks
Any addiction is no laughing matter. It affects not only the addict but also everyone around. If you think you cannot manage it on your own and need outside help, please contact a certified addiction counselor.