Social Media Addiction
When someone hears the word “addiction,” they will most likely begin picturing a homeless person overdosing on the street, or a scenario fairly close to that. What they will most likely not picture is a young male or female experiencing a fatal accident due to texting and driving. In the dictionary, addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” More often than not, these addictions can lead to negative effects. Understanding an addiction truly broadens the opportunity to improve the well-being of so many people. So, what is social media addiction and how does it affect its compulsive users?
We’ve all seen the person looking down at their phone on the highway or the entire group of people ignoring each other because they are on their phones; social media addiction occurs when a person checks/uses their social networking profiles in excess, usually at inappropriate times. In a recent survey, ironically ran on an application, FlashGap found of its 150,000 millennial users that 87% of them have missed out a conversation because they were distracted by their phones. More astounding than that, 54% have a fear of “missing out” if they have not checked their social accounts recently. Just how often do you have to be checking your phone to be considered among these addicts? Go-Globe has found that out of 2.3 billion people using social media, 18% cannot go a few hours without checking facebook. Why is this? Well, Harvard University has found in their studies that talking about yourself stimulates pleasure. So, are you a social media addict because you enjoy checking your account in times of leisure, or is there a certain amount of hours spent on social media to confirm you have a problem? One can not be so sure, but anything that a person allows to cause interference in their life, such as in school, at work, or in conversation, is when things change from a harmless habit to a destructive addiction. What is for certain is that this addiction has been proven to be stronger than that for cigarettes; as found in a study by Chicago University. Things need to be further looked into, here.
Research has been done to try and unlock the general personality of a person who is most likely to become subject to social media addiction; Isaac Vaghefi and Hamed Qahri-Saremi did such an investigation at DePaul University of Chicago with 300 young adult participants. What they discovered was based on the Personality Model, which consists of five factors used to measure one’s personality. The five factors being openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Out of the five, what stood out the most was neuroticism; the research concluded that a person who is more anxious and prone to stress vastly increases the chances of them being hooked to social media. On the other hand, people who are more dedicated and attentive, have decreased chances of becoming addicted.
Obvious, physical effects of social media range from carpal tunnel syndrome to eye strain, but it’s the impact it can have on one’s mental health that is worthy for further research. We already know that persons with anxiety are most likely to be a majority of social media addicts, but will this addiction worsen their anxious symptoms? Castle Craig Hospital in Scotland believes so, stating on their blog titled The Negative Impacts of Social Media
“Your mental health can be impacted where you have a low self-esteem as well as feelings of envy looking looking at everyone’s ‘idealized’ lives on social media.”
This seems logical enough; social media isn’t actually real and that girl you’re so jealous of because of her decor skills is probably three months late on her rent. People only post what they want the world to see, not the raw aspects of their everyday lives. Excessive social media use has also been proven to cause people (specifically young adults) to become less social. Another study by Flashgap found that out of 3,000 participants, 76% of females and 54% of males are guilty of checking their social media at least 10 times when out with friends in real life, social settings.
Something important to understand about the social media addiction epidemic is that this is only the beginning. Our constant and ever changing needs are what is driving the progression of social media platforms forward. The issue is currently at a stage of relevance; it is becoming more commonly recognized, but actions to be taken to help others minimize the time spent on their phone is scarce. Advice for “turning off push notifications” was given by the Castle Craig Harbor Hospital, but this doesn’t seem effective, as many people already have their phone on silent mode. Could it be that social media will eventually lead its followers to an inevitable social-less, depressed life?
Saiidi, Uptin. “Social Media Making Millennial Less Social: Study.” CNBC, CNBC, 19 Oct. 2015, http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/15/social-media-making-millennials-less-social-study.html.
NewMan, Tim. “Unlocking the Personality of a Social Media Addict.” Medical News Today, 17 Mar. 2018, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321240.php.
Vaghefi, Isaac. “A Combination of Personality Traits Might Make You More Addicted to Social Networks.” EurekAlert!, AAAS, 12 Mar. 2018, eurekalert.com/.
“The Negative Impacts of Social Media Addiction.” Castle Craig Hospital, Castle Craig Hospital , 2018, castlecraig.co.uk/.