Social Media as a Drug.
I’ve already discussed social media in terms of impacting a social life. Overall, I found that that social media enhances existing personality traits. But what about social media as an addiction?
Addiction is a condition in which the body must have a drug to avoid physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Addiction’s first stage is dependence, during which the search for a drug dominates an individual’s life. An addict eventually develops tolerance, which forces the person to consume larger and larger doses of the drug to get the same effect.
Obviously social media cannot be a physical addiction on a drug, but the physiological feelings it gives people could be seen as addictive.
Perhaps you know someone who constantly checks their phones for Facebook notifications or sends pictures of all their meals to Instagram. The first thing these people do after waking up is grab their smartphones and check away. You might say these people are dependent on social media, that it “dominates” their lives. They have to get a social media fix, constantly.
TechAddiction’s research shows that 48 percent of 18-34-year-olds check Facebook right when they wake up and 28 percent check it on their phones before getting out of bead. Similar stats can be seen for Twitter.
TechAdditon has created a Facebook addiction test with questions such as:
1. I often spend too much time on Facebook – usually more than I originally intend.
9. My work or school performance has suffered due to too much Facebook use.
16. I often use Facebook to avoid other responsibilities (e.g., work, homework, housework, etc.).
11. I often spend hours at a time playing games on Facebook.
I’m sure many people answer ‘True’ to these questions. If someone answers true to more than 11 of these questions, they are considered to be at an obsessive and unhealthy level. Many people likely struggle with an addiction to social media websites.
Addictions to technology are not isolated to Americans. A 2006 report in China concluded that internet addictions among youth were a “severe social problem that could threaten the nation’s future.” A gamer in Taiwan was found dead in an Internet café and a 3-month-old Korean girl died from neglect while her parents spent hours in one.
I think that like alcoholism and gambling, social media use is thought to be harmless in moderations. It’s when people become dependent on social media that it really creates problems. I think increased usage could be seen as a level of tolerance, leading to the consumption of more social media.
While no official disorders seem to have been created for social media, Techaddiction.ca focus is on the general addiction to technology including Internet addiction disorder. If you or someone you know might be addicted to social media or the internet, I think this website could provide a helpful start for recovery.