17 Mar Are You at Risk for Social Media Addiction?
Social media addiction, or sometimes just Facebook addiction, is an unhealthy habit and obsession. There is no official, clinical definition for such a condition, but for those who have let social media sites take over their lives, it is very real. Research into how social media can become an addiction is limited, but the body of work is growing all the time. If you’re questioning your time spent on social media and whether or not it is healthy, learn more about what a potential addiction could mean and if you really are at risk.
Internet/Gaming/Social Media Addiction
Since the Internet was born and came first into all of our homes and workspaces and then onto the handheld devices that travel with us everywhere we go, we have had the potential to use this tool in an unhealthy way. Some experts would call it Internet addiction disorder and describe this condition as something that causes social problems, and even neurological and psychological issues.
The official diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders, called the DSM-V, included Internet gaming disorder in its most recent edition as a condition warranting further study. It is described as an obsession with playing online games while ignoring other activities and interests and negative consequences. Social media usage is newer than the Internet itself and online gaming and research on the behavior is limited. However, it seems to be a condition that is comparable to other addictions.
One interesting study that proves just how addictive using the Internet and social media sites can be investigated the brains of people diagnosed with Internet addiction disorder. The researchers took scans of the addicts’ brains and compared them to those of healthy Internet users and those of drug addicts. The scans of Internet addicts looked similar to those of drug addicts. They showed changes in the brain in certain areas related to decisions, self-control and emotions.
Signs You’re at Risk for Social Media Addiction
With no official clinical definition for social media addiction, it can be tough to diagnose someone. If you consider some of the signs of Internet and gaming addictions, you get a good idea of what it means to be addicted to social media:
- Preoccupation — constantly thinking about using social media and checking status updates
- Tolerance — needing more and more time on social media sites to feel satisfied
- Lack of control — inability to cut back or stop using sites or using sites for much longer than intended
- Withdrawal — feeling bad, anxious or depressed when not using social media
- Negative consequences — experiencing some type of negative consequence, such as relationship issues, financial problems or a lost job, yet continuing to use social media
- Escaping emotions — using social media to escape feelings of depression, loneliness, guilt or anxiety
These are signs that are used to describe someone with an Internet addiction disorder, but they can easily be applied to someone who has a problem with social media. If you can’t say that you experience all or even a couple of these signs, yet you recognize some of your own behaviors in them, you might be at risk for developing an addiction. For example, maybe you lose track of time when you’re online checking your various social media accounts. You planned to be online for a half an hour and two hours pass before you realize it.
If you are questioning your social media habit, chances are you could stand to cut back. Before you become a full-blown addict, take the time to change your relationship to social media. Set boundaries and limitations. Meet friends in real time. Read a book or take a walk. Stay away from social media for a period of time and see how much better you feel.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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