Human beings have an innate need to communicate. It is the way we grow, share and relate. Social media is literally everywhere. There is no escape from a screen these days. Social media can help us to stay connected with our friends and family, express ourselves, and be up to date on the news. Various platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have transformed the whole world into a bustling global village without borders.
What is Social Media Addiction?
“Addiction” is a big word and it must be used with caution. The term “social media addiction” is a very recent phenomenon. It is due to the advent of the Internet, to which we are connected round the clock- anytime, anywhere. Social media has become so ingrained in our lives that it is easy to forget that it has not been around for too long.
These apps are changing the way we consume content, information, the news and are slowly altering our world view. The algorithms have figured out our likes, dislikes, moods, and preferences. In recent news, we have also found that social media has the power to swing elections and influence policies.
Social media addiction is defined as compulsive and excessive use of social media platforms, even when the use of these platforms is taking over your life and having a negative effect on your ‘real-life’ and relationships.
Signs and Symptoms
How can a seemingly harmless hobby turn into a full-blown addiction? How can just checking notifications to keep in touch with friends prove to be harmful?
Studies show that using social media excessively can have a negative impact on the brain. You may use social media compulsively and excessively. You can become so used to scrolling through posts, images, and videos that it interferes with other areas of your life. It can even go to such an extent that, you might even forget the world around you. It is even easier to fall prey to this addiction now as social media is becoming more and more accessible to everyone.
It is very easy to become a social media addict as scrolling through your feed and responding to notifications releases dopamine in your brain, which is the hormone associated with pleasure. The more you use the social media platform, the more your brain associates it with a rewarding activity by releasing dopamine. However, these feelings of pleasure are temporary, and that is why we feel compelled to engage in social media to keep feeling the dopamine rush from time to time.
A few common and easy to spot signs and symptoms are:
- The first thing you do is check your phone when you wake up.
- Feeling the urge to respond to every ping on your phone.
- Being unable to stay away from your phone or any other gadget.
- You experience feelings of anxiety when you don’t have access to the Internet.
- You are always checking what people are commenting, the number of likes and shares, and plan your posts on the basis of that.
- You end up sharing everything about your life and keep updating your statuses across various platforms.
- You end up neglecting your hobbies and time with your friends and family.
If these signs and symptoms resonate with you or your loved ones, read on to find how you can tackle social media addiction.
How to Overcome Social Media Addiction
There are many ways to overcome the dependence on social media. The key is acknowledging the issue and most importantly, time management. Half the problem can be resolved the moment you acknowledge it and accept that it is causing some level of discomfort in your life. There is a lot of power in acceptance.
Time management is the oldest trick in the book. It helps us to structure our day and determines the quality of time we spend on different activities. Keep alarms and reminders on your phone or leave sticky notes that tell you the amount of time you are going to spend browsing social media. These methods will keep you accountable and will help in maintaining commitment and discipline.
Another helpful way would be to uninstall the social media apps from your phone. This will definitely help in reducing your time on it as it will be less accessible. You can also utilize apps like Screen Time that track your daily usage and you can also set time limits on it to monitor your activity.
The best way would be to just get out of your room leaving all the gadgets behind. Take a walk in the park, watch a sunset, go catch up with friends, help out your mom in the kitchen or pick up a good old book with a nice cup of tea. There are other ways to unwind and relax. You just have to make it a habit. It is crucial to take breaks every now and then and be present in a moment, without rushing to click a picture to post it on Instagram.
Social media is everywhere and it is here to stay and it has become a part of our life. But, the bright side is such that we can control how much of a part of our lives it can claim. We can limit its usage and enjoy the fun side of it and get creative. We can allow it to get the best of us and not the worst. Because remember, everything is a treasure in a measure.