According to recent research, you could be experiencing symptoms of social media addiction. Evidence suggests that certain people may be prone to addictive behavior on social network sites as well. At least six percent of the global population experience negative effects due to social media use. Some even fit the profile of being an addict.
The United States had over 208 million social media users in 2017. According to statista.com, Facebook users aged 18 and older, average 25 minutes per day. Given the popularity of social media among youth, usage time could be higher for adolescents. Because of this, they could have a higher risk of social media addiction.
Maybe you lose track of time browsing your feed on Facebook. Others may go on Pinterest to make themselves feel better. Some of us may have compulsive urges to check our phone for Twitter alerts.
Most of these “symptoms” may sound like normal social media use to you. Your social media activity could be an impulsive habit. So how do you know if the behavior crosses the line from habit to addiction?
This is a question that current research seeks to answer. According to Professor of Behavioral Addiction at Nottingham Trent University Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D, some questions to ask yourself are:
Do you spend a good deal of time thinking about social media? Do your urges to use social media intensify over time? Do you go on social media sites to forget your problems? Are you unable to decrease the amount of time you spend on social media? Do you experience feelings of withdrawal if you can’t use social media? Has social media use gotten in the way of your job, school, or personal obligations?
Your answers to these questions could determine if your social media use is unhealthy. Or even worse, a sign of addiction.
Additional evidence suggests that social media use affects certain people in different ways. According to the Journal of Addictive Behaviors, those who are “young, women, not in a relationship, a student, and less educated” have a higher chance of becoming an addict. Other research has found that fear of missing out, or “FOMO,” is a predictor of social media addiction. Users experiencing FOMO might turn to social media to ease their anxiety.
Narcissism, a form of self-admiration, is another predictor of addiction. The ability to gain “likes” and comments on social media can “feed the ego” for narcissists.
If your social media habits worry you, try to keep track of the time you spend on social media. Your day-to-day Facebook and Instagram use could have adverse effects on your well-being. Even worse, it could affect your loved ones. If that’s the case, it might be time to start socializing and engaging offline.
Staying off our phones can be difficult for many of us. Some of us need our phones for work or staying in touch with your kids. Thankfully, there are some things you can do.
Some of us tap on Instagram or Twitter without thought. A good strategy that works for me is to delete the app altogether. If the icon isn’t on your home screen, you can’t go on Facebook. Having to install the app first and login makes it harder for you to go on.
Try setting a timer as another measure to reduce social media use. 20 minutes per day is a good starting point. iPhones’ Screen Time function is a useful tool for this. Set limits for certain apps like Instagram and Snapchat without losing access to phone calls.
Social media occupies a large part of our lives for many of us. Staying in touch with friends and family is important. However, your mental health comes first. So do what you can to avoid becoming a social media addict.