What started as a fun way to connect with friends, find new ones and keep tabs on your favorite celebrities has quickly taken a turn for the worse. As you begin to follow more people, discover more content and post more pictures, your daily screen time climbs to an embarrassingly high number.
Wishing you could pick back up old hobbies now replaced by doomscrolling, you decide to enable daily screen time limits.
But now, you already hit your limit, and it’s not even lunch! Even though this is a sign you should probably get back to work, you can’t help but feel serious FOMO, or the fear of missing out. So, you select “ignore limit for today” and feel at ease scrolling through your familiar feed.
This cycle repeats until soon, your daily screen time is hitting record highs, you feel closer to your online friends rather than your real ones and your significant other just accused you of phubbing, or the act of snubbing someone you're talking to in person in favor of your phone.
And now, you've stumbled across this article to learn what social media addiction is and how it affects your life. So…
What is social media addiction?
Social media addiction is a form of behavioral addiction in which a person engages in the compulsive and excessive use of social media.
In the US alone, 72% of people reported using some type of social media in 2021. While not everyone who uses social media will become addicted, Pew Research Center estimates that 5-10% of people meet the criteria for social media addiction.
Why is social media addictive?
The phenomena of social media addiction can be largely attributed to the dopamine-inducing social environments that social networking sites provide—an endless amount of immediate rewards for relatively minimal effort.
While social media can seem like mindless and relaxing fun, it has a significant effect on your brain: log on to your favorite app → dopamine signals, associated with pleasure, in your brain increase → your brain identifies this activity as a rewarding one → the pleasurable feelings start to wear off → you log back on to your favorite app for more…
What are symptoms of social media addiction?
Social media overuse is becoming increasingly commonplace today, and it may have some serious repercussions on physical and mental health.
Symptoms of social media addiction include:
- restlessness if unable to check social media;
- increased reliance on social media as a coping mechanism;
- you constantly check your notifications and update your status;
- you plan your social media posts in advance;
- social media gets in the way of real-life connections.
How does social media addiction affect your life?
When social media begins to interfere with your personal, professional and even physical life, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your screen time habits.
Symptoms of social media addiction can manifest themselves as:
- anxiety or depression;
- increased isolation;
- low self-esteem;
- poor school/work performance;
- lack of empathy and more.
How can you heal your relationship with social media?
Social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, there are several benefits to social media, such as:
- increasing access to resources;
- highlighting causes of interest;
- connecting you with like-minded people;
- helping you share and sharpen your skills.
So, there’s no need to purchase a flip phone and go off the grid (unless that’s more your style!). Instead, check out 15 tips to control phone addiction.