Did you know that there are more than 2 million social media users in the world, approximately 500 tweets are sent, 70 million images are uploaded on Instagram, and more than 300 hours of video are produced per day? And the most interesting thing is that we are so overwhelmed with content that our lives, our relationships and even our biology are being affected?
Next, we will talk to you about addiction to social networks, we will explain what it consists of and the main symptoms so that you learn to recognize if you or a family member or close friend suffer from it.
What is a technology addiction?
Also called non-chemical addiction or non-drug addiction, it is a repetitive behavior that, like all addictions, generates pleasure, at least in the first phases, and silently leads to loss of control, generating serious interference in daily life, either at a personal, work, family, social and academic level.
Problematic social media use, known as social media addiction or cyber addiction, is a form of psychological or behavioral dependence on social media platforms, similar to gambling (difficulty controlling impulses), addiction disorder to the internet and other forms of excessive use of digital media, which is diagnosed when a person permanently carries out online activities at the cost of failing to comply with daily responsibilities or pursuing other interests and without taking into account the negative consequences that these bring.
Another way to know when the use of Social Media has become an addiction is when it produces social isolation or anxiety. When self-esteem begins to affect and the person loses the capacity for self-control. Feelings such as seeking popularity, wanting to have countless “friends”, the desire and need to collect “Likes”, the anxiety produced by some people not reacting to a publication, the need to constantly check the social applications on the phone to Knowing response statuses to posts, the need to compare themselves with others and know every detail of their lives, the desire to spend long hours, especially at night, reviewing meaningless publications, are some ways to know that steps are being taken towards addiction.
What is the dynamic that is generated in social media?
Social recognition: as human beings we need the validation of our peers to build our identity and to feel safe and supported. This has been known to be very well used by companies like Facebook, which is responsible for sharing content so that you are visible to your friends and friends of friends and reminding you and reminding them of what you have posted, simply to keep people connected and this way create a fake social validation (albeit real for the account user).
Window to the others’ lives: another characteristic of human beings is their need to know about the lives of others, this is not good or bad, just a reality, the problem is when it becomes an imperative need. Social networks opened this window to the lives of many people, to the point that when it is already a vice, the person feels the need to publish everything they are doing and the viewer, the need to see each other’s movement. This has led to the appearance of a new mental illness called in English FOMO (Fear of Missing out), that is, fear of missing something of what happens in the lives of others or in social life.
Be visible: Social networks allow their members to be visible and this has led many to believe the idea of a false happiness and perfection, of a perfect world that they want to make known to others and that they believe is their own identity. This generates deep suffering when living two realities, one invisible and painful and the other visible and unreal.
Be invisible: on the contrary, many users are invisible eyewitnesses, who follow many and observe their lives comparing themselves with others and suffering in silence and anonymity. The effect on self-esteem by permanent comparison is immediate and leads to greater anonymity and desire for the absolute from an invisible context.
The motivation of people to have accounts on twitter, facebook or Instagram are multiple, such as interacting with others, being visible to others, reaffirming their identity before a certain group of friends, also being connected to them or exchanging photos, videos or Music, in turn, this facilitates hooking because they are free and it is so easy to stay in them all day, since by looking at the time you already know if a person has notifications, apart from that it also allows somehow to have “control” over the others (if they have read the message, if they are online or until what time was their last connection).
In this way, connecting to social networks and being on the internet all the time is possible all the time, just by getting up and being the first thing they see, as well as going to bed and being th last thing they see. More than the specific number of hours connected, the determining factor is the degree of negative interference in daily life.
Specifically, adolescents constitute a higher risk group because they tend to looking for new sensations and they are the ones who connect the most to the internet, as well as being more familiar with new technologies.
Warning signs of internet dependence
A study conducted by Harvard University found that the effect of permanent use of Social Media produces a chemical reaction in the brain similar to that produced by the consumption of addictive substances such as cocaine.
For this reason, the main alarm signals that indicate a dependence on social networks and that may reflect the beginning of an addiction must be taken into account are:
- Need to check the phone permanently, anxiety at not having it or the inability to disconnect from it.
- Sleep deprivation, sleeping less than 5 hours due to being connected to the internet, to which abnormally high connection times are spent.
- Neglecting important activities such as contact with family, work, personal relationships, study and health.
- Feeling excessively anxious and irritated when the connection fails or is very slow.
- Try to limit the connection time, but cannot succeed and lose time notion while consuming content.
- Lying about the actual time you are connecting.
- Isolate yourself, lower academic or professional performance.
It is important to be able and know how to identify these types of symptoms in us, our family or friends who are obsessed with the internet, and try to change habits when it begins to be detected, but if it is something uncontrollable it is necessary to seek help, so do not hesitate to contact me, I can help you.