Why Is Social Media Addictive?
With the use of mobile technology like smartphones, people can now access and use the social media to their own advantage.
Ever since social media emerged, many users have become addicted and the rate at which people are using social media is skyrocketing like crazy.
According to facebook, there are over 1.8 billion daily users on the platform and each user login every 15 minutes just see what’s trending.
The level of addiction can be dangerous and have a negative impact globally, escpecially on the youth.
So what makes a person become a social media addict?
Here are a few signs to detect one of those:
- Touches phone first in the morning or when he/she wakes up in between sleep
- Spends an average of 15 hours on one or multiple social media channels.
- Takes social media very seriously.
- Interacting with people on social media more than with people existing around them.
- Always on the phone and constantly have low battery cause they haven’t dropped the phone long enough for it to charge.
- Fear of losing information
- Studying whiles browsing social networks
All these are typical signs of social media addiction.
You may be asking, why are people becoming addictive?.
There are lots of factors but I will provide answers to the question in the latter part of this article.
Infographic: How to Fight Social Media Addiction
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People become addictive because the social networks are a way to recreate the social conditions of the stone age.
The stone age was long, modernity is short.
There have been modern humans for a million years at least.
There’s been agricultural civilization for five or ten thousand years at most.
I think it’s safe to say that the external circumstances of typical homo sapiens have changed more in the past thousand years than in the previous million years combined.
Randolph Nesse and George Williams describe the social life of the stone age in their book “Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine.”
You were born into a nomadic band of forty to a hundred people.
Whatever its size, it was a stable social group. You grew up in the care of various close relatives.
Even if your local band consisted of a hundred or more people, many of them were distant cousins. You knew them all, their genetic and marital connections to yourself.
If there were those you did not love, at least you knew what to expect from them, and you knew what everyone expected from you.
The Mordern World Has Changed
Truly indeed, social media has changed certain relationships that we use to have back in the days.
In certain homes, people were once living with their parents, brothers, sisters and close friends. Most of these relatives no longer live in the same house, some are busy with work, school and others are traveling overseas.
Due to this, family relationships are no more and continues to die out slowly, but with the aid of technology and social media, its possible to communicate or reach them anywhere by just sending a message with your smartphone using social platforms like facebook and whatsapp.
As a result, this could be one of the factors that promotes addictive behavior in people.
In another instance where college students are studying their books or participating in a lecture, you find them browsing on social networks during lecture hours or even when it’s time to learn.
The majority of people self-identify as addicts when it comes to their social media habits.
We all know that not everyone is a social media addict but it all depends on the behavior of the individual, how often they spend time on social networks.
Personally I can understand how using social media can become compulsive. I think it’s fair to say that we all have a deep-seated, fundamental need to be accepted by our peers.
Let’s say you post a funny picture or video to facebook, we want to see reactions of the audience on that particular post.
We want our participation to matter, to be accepted by others and even total strangers.
These minor validations can act as pleasure-inducing “hits” much like an addictive drink or drug, and for some people, they can find themselves taking their social media habits to dangerous, unhealthy extremes.
Furthermore, a recent Harvard study indicated that talking about ourselves on social media, despite the frequency with which humans disclose the contents of their own thoughts, little has been known about the proximate mechanisms that motivate this behavior.
Here, we suggest that humans so willingly self-disclose because doing so represents an event with intrinsic value, in the same way as with primary rewards such as food and clothes.
Intriguingly, findings also suggested that both parts of “self-disclosure” have reward value.
Although participants were willing to forgo money merely to introspect about the self and doing so was sufficient to engage brain regions associated with the rewarding outcomes, these effects were magnified by knowledge that one’s thoughts would be communicated to another person, suggesting that individuals find opportunities to disclose their own thoughts to others to be especially rewarding.
Social media provides not only the tools to share our thoughts and feelings with others, but is also designed to gamify the act of doing so, with “likes” or “upvotes” giving positive feedback, encouraging increased participation.
This combination of incentives can, in some people, lead to unhealthy self-reinforcing cycle that drives them to obsessive behavior.
Hope you enjoyed this article.