These days almost everyone has a smartphone that enables them to access the internet at any hour of the day. And related to this fact, very closely actually, is that social media has become quite the phenomenon. With social media becoming so important in the lives of many people, it is not difficult to see how it can end up becoming a problem.
In fact, social media can become an addiction if its use starts to interfere with everyday life; indeed, there is compelling evidence to suggest that it is becoming a national problem. As internet addiction is a very real illness, it stands to reason that social media addiction is also a major problem, particularly as it has become such a very important part of life for so many individuals.
If you are not affected, you may be wondering how and why social media addiction has become such a big problem but think about how many people spend large chunks of their day on their phones, checking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. These social media sites are absolutely enormous in scale, and many people cannot go for any length of time without checking them.
However, while social media is just a normal part of daily life for many individuals, for many it can become an obsession. Some become consumed by it to the point where they allow it to take over their life and interfere with normal, everyday living.
Are You Addicted to Social Media?
Many people spend more time than they should on social media, but this is just a sign of the times. Social media is a massive part of today’s culture, and for teenagers, in particular, lives tend to revolve around these platforms.
Still, if your use of social media has become a problem, it is important that you address the issue sooner rather than later. Consider the following behaviours to determine if you could have a problem:
- Do you spend most of your spare time on social media sites or thinking about using them?
- Have you allowed your use of social media to interfere with daily life?
- Do you find that your urge to use social media is something that you have little control over?
- Are you neglecting spending time with loved ones because it would interfere with your social media use?
- Do you become irritable or moody when you cannot access the internet to check social media?
- Have you lost interest in activities or hobbies that you used to enjoy because of your obsession with social media?
- Does your use of social media make you feel better or do you use it to forget your problems?
Why Is Social Media Addiction Harmful?
You might think that a social media addiction is harmless and that there is nothing wrong with spending your time checking Facebook posts for likes or shares. Nonetheless, when the use of social media starts to impact on everyday life, it can become a major problem. Why social media addiction is harmful is all to do with the effect it can have on health and relationships with others.
One of the most significant consequences of social media addiction is the impact it can have on mental health. Most people who post on social media will only share the positive aspects of their lives, which gives many individuals the impression that others have amazing lives. People share their good news but not their bad. This creates insecurity in those who have a false idea of what reality is. Comparing one’s own life to the wonderful lives of others on social media can leave many individuals feeling down and depressed.
Social media has led to a rise in cyberbullying, and teenagers are particularly vulnerable. Although bullying has always been an issue in this age group, the problem seems to have been exacerbated because of the so-called ‘keyboard warriors’ – people who can hide behind their computer screens under the veil of anonymity. Cyberbullying has led to severe mental health problems in many people and has even resulted in some of these taking their own life.
Being addicted to social media can also have a major impact on life in terms of it becoming a distraction. Those who find themselves obsessed with social media will often isolate from others, leading to problems within relationships. When they have no time for anything other than going online, it can cause tension and leave family members or friends feeling neglected.
From the impact that it has on mental health and relationships with others, it is easy to see why social media addiction is harmful; however, it is important to remember that it can also affect physical health. While not as damaging as a substance addiction to a mood-altering chemical such as drugs or alcohol, social media addiction can have a knock-on effect on physical health in quite a few ways.
For example, those who become consumed by social media often spend large chunks of time online and ‘forget’ to eat or sleep. When they do eat, they may reach for convenience foods that are quick and easy but that have little nutritional value. Such a lifestyle has implications for health.
Can You Overcome a Social Media Addiction?
Social media is a massive part of life and stepping back from it can be a huge challenge for those who have become addicted. Nevertheless, it is all about learning how to use it in moderation. While the ideal scenario would be to avoid the thing that is causing so much harm in your life, when it comes to the internet, this may not be possible.
The internet is perhaps one of the most important inventions of our time but when the use of it has a negative impact on daily life, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding the internet forever is unlikely to be possible, but you can limit the amount of time spent online.
You may also want to consider therapy to help you understand more about why you became addicted to social media in the first place. There may be some underlying issues that have contributed to your addictive behaviours, so these will need to be addressed for you to move on.
During talking and behaviour therapy sessions, you will be helped to identify the causes of your addiction and you will learn to recognise and acknowledge the problems that your addictive behaviour has caused.
You can then learn how to overcome these issues and develop ways of avoiding a return of them in the future. It may be that your problems have stemmed from past experiences and you are using social media as an escape outlet. Perhaps you are already aware of issues that could be the contributing factors for your addiction, or maybe you need help getting to the root of your problems. This is where therapy can be beneficial.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is often used in the treatment of compulsive behaviour disorders such as social media addiction. This is a type of talking therapy that will enable you to identify your negative thought patterns so that you can challenge them and find ways of replacing them with positive alternatives.
For more information on overcoming your addiction to social media, please contact us here at Middlegate. We can help you by providing information on how and where to access treatment. If you have any more queries or questions about why social media addiction is so harmful, please give us a call today and we will be happy to help.