Do you think you have a social media addiction?
Social media addiction has become more common than ever with the rise of social media giants like TikTok and Instagram. Short-form video content is more attention-grabbing than other types of digital content and, as detailed by psychological studies published by the FFT Education Datalab, Young people in England are most likely to use social media every day and express withdrawal symptoms if internet access is taken away.
In PISA 2015, 15-year-olds from over 40 countries were given a questionnaire about their social media and technology use. Some of the questions were concerned with the frequency with which they used social media platforms and inquired about the existence of substance withdrawal-like symptoms if they couldn’t connect to the Internet. The results illustrated that teenagers in England, are some of the most widely affected demographics.
Social media interactions such as notifications, likes and DM’s can trigger dopamine release. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone that makes us feel good but doesn’t cause addiction. That’s because dopamine is a natural chemical in our bodies, and we can’t ingest it directly like drugs or food. Instead, we become addicted to the activity that releases dopamine.
Most of us use social media to connect and share content like memes, videos and vlogs. And brands and companies bombard the social media population with ads and content to sell their products and raise awareness. However, a significant number of users report heavy social media use harms self-esteem, relationships and productivity. It might affect their sleep habits and even translate into their eating habits.
Most Gen Zs began their social media addiction with TikTok and Instagram. Shockingly, Wall Street Journal report revealed that TikTok functions like a candy store for children’s brains and a decrease in attention spans has been correlated with increased screentime.
If you’ve found yourself using social media to waste time or constantly mindlessly scrolling through TikTok and Instagram and then notice that hours have passed, you might be showing signs of social media addiction.
Some solutions to social media addiction could be setting aside a certain amount of time for social media users every day. Using timer apps that keep you accountable or even block these apps after this timeframe has passed has proven helpful for many self-aware social media addicts. Taking up hobbies that involve no technology, such as sports, art classes, or travelling can also be helpful to withdraw from social media and cope with the sudden anxiety spike from the withdrawal symptoms.