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Social Media Addiction: The New-Age Pandemic

Do you remember what a usual Sunday was like when you were a kid? For me, it was all about finally watching the movie I waited for the whole week on T.V. while having dinner with my family. The morning would start relatively later after a week of school and instead of rushing to catch the van, I would be slowly brushing my teeth to the songs on the radio. I would then look at the Entertainment Section of the Sunday Special newspaper to check if my favourite artists have appeared. Fast forward to today, every movie and show is out there on the internet, easily accessible to everyone with a secure connection. The news, the whereabouts, everything about our favourite artists is now in the palm of our hands, just a single search away. But is this blurred line between our own lives and the lives of other people always benefitting?


 The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health


According to the data released by the Pew Research Centre, social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat have now become a part of their daily routine for users. The average time a person spends on social media exceeds 2.5 hours a day. American Writer Rodger Kamenetz once said, “The other day, lying in bed, I felt my heart beating for the first time in a long while. I realized how little I live in my body, and how much in my mind.” In the modern age of social media, this gets further modified into one living not in their mind but on the internet, being invested in people’s lives and comparing their own with the ones seen on the internet. 



Many people confess to feeling pressured to constantly update their social media accounts with curated glimpses of their lives. What was once a childhood stroll in the garden to immerse oneself in nature has transformed into a quest for Instagram-worthy snapshots. While social media has connected the globe, it has simultaneously intensified feelings of loneliness. People spend more time cultivating their online personas than engaging with their thoughts or loved ones. 



The Addiction Centre data calls social media addiction a behavioural addiction, driven by an uncontrollable urge to open one’s social media accounts to scroll through them. Studies indicate that mindless scrolling, or "doomscrolling," is linked to depression. Younger users, in particular, grapple with mental health challenges as they compare themselves to the polished images presented online, fostering insecurities, low self-esteem, and depression. 


Research done by the Technical University of Denmark reveals that short-duration videos like Instagram Reels, Tik-Toks, and YouTube Shorts have led to a decrease in people’s attention spans and concentration levels in recent years.


Potential Solutions


•Turning off the notifications: Constant notifications feed our urge to keep opening these apps from time to time between our chores. Turning them off is one way to keep that distraction away. Allocate specific free time to review notifications at once, saving time and reducing distractions.


•Limiting screen time: Set daily time limits for social media apps, preventing access once the allotted time is exceeded. This encourages mindful consumption and tracks phone usage throughout the day.


•Delete the apps from your phone: Substitute mobile app usage with internet browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge . This way they will have lesser features and be a little slower leading to lesser dopamine release, helping you further to stay away from them.


•Trying out new hobbies: Pick up a new hobby, be it painting, gardening, playing a new sport, or anything else. This not only provides a healthy distraction but also reduces reliance on mobile devices.


•Follow good content on social media: While a social media detox is beneficial, complete disconnection may not be the solution. Choose accounts and pages wisely, opting for content that enriches your knowledge, exposes you to diverse opinions, and connects you with insightful individuals.


 Conclusion


Social media is a beautiful place to connect with old and new friends. It is a place where one can share stories and opinions and impact people both for good and bad. There is knowledge and information, but there is also negativity and hate. Finding a balance through mindful usage, good intentions, and knowing when to step back is imperative. 



The hyperlinks are the sources that I have referred to for this article.


Edited By: Matsoarelo Makuke


Pictures by:


Picture 1- Via Pew Research


Picture 2- Via Lemonade


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Tags: #internet #Socialmedia #digitalage #socialmediaddiction



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