By Shannon Fitzgibbon

Social media, being now readily available to anyone with modern communicative technologies, has inherently made it possible for communication without limitations of distance, language, or even areas of cell phone service. Popular platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook provide billions of people worldwide with connection to anyone, with little intervention as to how much time or how the time is used on the platform.

What is social media addiction?

Social media addiction, making its appearance in society within the previous decade, seriously affects between five and ten percent of Americans today. This addiction is described as a “behavioral addiction” as it is a non-substance addiction that is created through certain behaviors. According to the Addiction Center, social media addiction is characterized “as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas”. Some changes in behavior, outside of compulsively “checking” social media outlets can include changes in mood when not able to access social media, being overly preoccupied on social media, and other forms of withdrawal both emotionally and physically from lack of use.

In many teenagers and young adults who compulsively use social media, decline in mental health is overly apparent. In a specialized study, the Paradigm Treatment concluded that many experienced “losses in friendship, decreased physical social engagement, and a negative impact at school.” As stated, the side effects of social media addiction is rather similar to the effects of any substance based addiction.

Why do we become addicted?

There are many psychological implications as to how one may become addicted to the use of social media. First and foremost, social media and the engagement with it, can cause the same reaction in the brain as using any other addictive substance. The brain (and therefore the individual) reacts positively to this feeling and will look continue to use social media to regain this feeling. Social media provides an escape from the struggles of reality and can cause teenagers and other young persons to rely on it for happiness.

What can I do to prevent social media addiction?

For oneself, keeping track of how much time truly spent on social media is an excellent start to self-reflection and an understanding how social media plays a part in the life of any individual. Taking time to stay away from screens or even an extended hiatus from social media platforms can help altogether reduce the risk of social media addiction.

For teenagers and other young adults, the consistent limiting of screen time is essential to the treatment of social media addiction. Furthermore, creating and adhering to boundaries set in place to protect the individual from succumbing to the pressures of social media can further help rehabilitate from social media addiction. With severe mental health issues and a serious case of social media addiction, professional intervention may be necessary.

For more information regarding social media and how it can have a lasting impact on a person’s mental health, take a look at Teens Say Social Media Isn’t Bad For Them.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is social media addiction a relevant issue in today’s society?
  2. Which social media platform do you spend the most time on? Why?
  3. If you were to delete one social media platform entirely, which one would it be? Why?
  4. If you could only keep one social media platform, which one would it be? Why?


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