Thanks to their persuasive design techniques like endless newsfeeds and instant push notifications, we’re spending more and more time using social media.
All of this combined means that social media is causing many people to develop concerning mental health issues such as depression and addiction.
What Is Social Media Addiction?
Social media use can often trigger a dopamine response within the brain, causing people to become compulsively and incessantly preoccupied with it. That’s why excessive use of social media can cause addictive tendencies and responses similar to other types of behavioral addictions like smoking, gambling, alcohol, and illicit drug dependence. With all of these conditions, someone is unable to stop themselves doing the activity despite the often-obvious negative consequences to their physical, emotional, mental, or financial well-being.
What Causes Social Media Addiction?
While checking your social media may seem pretty normal, it can easily become a habit. That’s because at its most basic level, social media feeds into our fundamental human need to feel like we are wanted, loved, and accepted in society. Our reliance on social media can also be a form of escapism from our lives, or from persistent feelings of loneliness, boredom, or other negative emotions.
Addiction to social media is driven by the neurobiological circuitry within our bodies referred to as the reward system. Whenever we engage in rewarding activities that provide us with pleasurable feelings, it’s because our brain has triggered dopamine to be released so that we will decide to do the same activity again. Social media apps and websites have all been expertly designed to artificially induce that release of dopamine in your brain so that you ultimately become more and more reliant on their product.
What Are The Effects Of Social Media Addiction?
Digital overstimulation caused by social media addiction has been having an increasingly negative impact on our health, both mentally as well as physically. Social media addiction has been shown to cause depression, anxiety, and other disorders, as well as decreased self-worth and disruptive sleep patterns. In fact, the rates of self-harm and suicide among teenagers have also increased exponentially over the past decade, which directly correlates with the growth of social media.
What Can You Do About Social Media Addiction?
If you’re concerned about your social media use, seeking professional help from a mental health expert or therapist who deals with addictions would be a good place to start. There’s a wide variety of strategies you can try to lessen your reliance on social media, which can have a profound effect on your overall happiness and your daily life. While not everything is an addiction, reducing your social media use will mean more time spent focusing on the things that matter most in your life.