People who become obsessed with online media and cannot cope with the consequences may develop behavioural disorders, including social media addiction. The usage of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and video games is on the rise; people who become addicted to online media experience losses in friends decreased social engagement and academic distress due to their excessive use.
There is no question that teens and adults alike check their phones 150 times a day & an obsession with social media has a significant impact on teens, including the development of severe self-esteem issues and feelings of anxiety.
In addition to promoting mental health decline among teens, social media also serves as an outlet for online aggression and cyberbullying, causing children to suffer psychologically. It can adversely affect a child's ability to engage with others and perform academically. Addiction to online media can also negatively affect a child's future.
In addition to negatively affecting existing relationships, teens who spend too much time on social media may struggle to maintain emotional connections with their parents or friends because of constant distractions and lack of attention.
How social media Affects the brain
Social media platforms are physically and psychologically addictive because of their effects on the brain. A self-disclosure occurs on social networking sites and triggers the same part of the brain as taking addictive substances.
When you feel rewarded or use an addictive substance, the dopamine levels increase in the brain's reward area & chemical messenger pathways & this enhances decisions and sensations. In other words, the brain is rewarded for engaging in the drug or activity, and the behaviour is associated with positive reinforcement.
An individual can observe this phenomenon in the way they use social media. When they receive a notification, such as a like or a mention, dopamine is released into the brain, triggering a pleasurable response.
People crave positive reinforcement from social media, so they maintain an obsession with likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions, which rewires their brains to desire immediate attention from others. The brain's reward centres are also most active when people talk about themselves in social media posts, thus perpetuating addiction to social media.
Most people talk about themselves in the offline world about 30 to 40% of the time, but on social media, people focus on showing off their life and accomplishments, so they talk about themselves 80% of the time.
Social media may spur the brain to release dopamine when someone posts a picture, rewarding the behaviour and perpetuating the habit. The use of social media becomes problematic when social networking sites are being used as effective coping mechanisms for depression, loneliness, or stress.
The constant rewards gained from using social media keep these individuals engaged in the activity, so they consume more and more of it. Constant use eventually leads to multiple interpersonal problems, such as ignoring personal relationships, work or school responsibilities, and physical health, which can lead to negative moods and feelings of depression. Thus, social networking behaviour has become an increasingly popular way for people to relieve their dysphoric state of mind.
You have options to help reduce your overall use of social media, whether you have an addiction to social media or spend too much time on your apps.
Following are some tips to help yourself achieve a balanced approach to social media:
- It may help you decrease the amount of time you spend on social media if you remove your social media apps from your smartphone.
- While you can still access them from your desktop or laptop computer, removing the apps may help you reduce the time you spend on social media.
- You can also switch off certain notifications on social media apps to limit their use during school, meals, and recreation.
- Turn off your phone during work, school, meals, and leisure activities.
- Use a timer to help you keep track of how much time you spend on social media each day.
- Keep your phone tablet laptop out of sight before going to bed.
- Consider taking up a new hobby, such as sport, art, cooking classes, or something else less tech-related.
- Keep in touch with your friends and family by visiting when you can.
Additionally, it's important to take a break from social media altogether periodically to maintain a sense of reality. You can take a break for a single day per week, a month, or even the whole season, depending on your needs. You should make this decision, not your social media account.
Despite the widespread use of social media today, there's no need to automatically become addicted to it. Set clear boundaries with your children and yourself and take frequent breaks from social media to prevent your child from becoming overly dependent on it.
Having a social media addiction is not a fatal illness, but there are ways to handle it so you can be more well-adjusted. You should reach out to a mental health professional for support.
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