We live in a world obsessed with social media. Often we find ourselves more engrossed in other people’s lives than our own. Social media has brought us all closer while also causing a rift between us and our personal life. What you do on social media, how much you use it, and what platform you frequent have a direct effect on your personal life, relationships, physical health, and mental health.
In the last two years, couple’s therapists have received more cases of distant partners as a result of excessive social media use than ever before. Over 34% of teens in the US admitted to social media negatively impacting their mental health and self-confidence. Experts are now calling sitting the new age smoking, the main reason we spend so much time on our derrieres is all thanks to the endless amount of mindless scrolling we do on social media platforms. A study by The Pew Research Center revealed that over 35% of social media users have shown increasing signs of social isolation. Ironic considering social media was meant to do the exact opposite.
These numbers are definitely alarming. But what’s more alarming is that these statistics and facts about social media and its users are only getting worse with each passing month. Social media addiction is on the rise globally and the global media isn’t doing much to stop this.
What Is Social Media Addiction?
A social media addiction behaves in the same way as any other form of behavioral addiction. In this particular kind of addiction, the social media user displays excessive and compulsive usage of social media. Although this addiction can be found in people of all ages, it is most common in teens and young adults.
As humans we are social beings, it is normal for us to want to remain connected to our friends, family, and even the celebrities we like. To know what everyone else is doing in their life, how they spent their holidays, what’s their current relationship status, brings a sense of normalcy in our life as we are inherently social beings. All while displaying your perfect life on the same platforms. However, this behavior can soon get addictive and toxic.
Our brain reacts to social media similarly like how it would react to sex or even binging on your favorite food. It alerts the reward system of the brain which in turn releases dopamine. This feel-good hormone can be extremely addictive. In addition to this, social media is very similar to a slot machine. We use it, anticipating the price we might receive in the end. The more you use, the stronger the cravings get. Through our research, we have found that social media addiction unfolds itself in 5 stages. Let’s have a look at them.
The 5 Stages Of Social Media Addiction
Addiction can differ from person to person. But, this is the most common process. Most social media addicts travel through these stages one by one over a course of time.
Stage 1: Experimentation
When you’re introduced to something new, you’re automatically more intrigued by it. It’s the same with social media. There are so many different social media platforms today. Every few months either a new platform is launched or the existing ones get exciting new features. These new features and platforms are launched in order to ensure that they still have a hold of your attention. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be about social media directly. You might have just bought a new phone with the best features and excited to try it out. Exciting to take new photos of yourself and your surroundings with the new camera. Once these pictures are taken a few of them are definitely going up on social media. That’s how ingrained social media is in our lives.
This is an exciting period because everything is new and fresh. You’re introduced to new concepts and new features and are looking forward to learning more. You scroll and click your way through pages and pages of exciting content. Whole new websites and trends might have cropped up in just the matter of a day. There are memes about your favorite show, memes about your university, stuff you can directly relate to. Things like these have a stronghold on your attention and keep you coming back for more.
Stage 2: Regular/Daily Use
Once you get used to being on social media, you soon have your social media accounts logged into on all your gadgets. Be it your phone, laptop, tablet, or PC. At this stage, you spend a sizeable chunk of your day on social media. Scrolling through Twitter, liking memes on Instagram or even making new reels to post on your Instagram feed. A good part of your free time is mostly spent on social media.
There is nothing troublesome about this stage. It’s a happy stage where you’re enjoying using social media. Social media hasn’t yet taken over your life drastically. If you’re busy you could even go an entire day without getting on any social media platform. This is the optimal stage where your social media usage is healthy and your digital wellbeing is intact. There is no need to necessarily limit social media use at this stage.
Stage 3: Risky Use
Risky users are users that are not addicted to social media but do spend an unhealthy amount of time on social networking sites. At this stage, your phone is your best friend and social media is your sole source of entertainment. All your free time is spent on social media and you no longer engage in any of your hobbies. Out of the 24 hours in a day you spend more of it on social media than off of it.
This is an alarming stage, as it shows the starting signs of an addiction forming. When you’re going through this phase, you get frustrated when you’re not able to access social media. If the WiFi is down, or if your phone dies, you get frustrated and anxious that you can no longer access social media. If you’re seeing these signs in yourself, there’s still time to turn things around. Download SocialX and limit your social media usage effectively and efficiently today.
Stage 4: Addiction
In this stage, you are completely addicted and dependent on social media. You start your day with social media and end your day on it as well. Even before you brush your teeth or use the washroom, you’re on your phone scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. Before you know it, it’s afternoon and you haven’t done much other than spending time on social media, Your social media use is now affecting your work and school. You have a hard time meeting the deadline of your projects because you don’t realize the amount of time you spend on social media has gotten out of hand.
Your weekends are consumed by Netflix, you don’t remember the last time that you touched a physical newspaper, and you spend more time communicating with friends via social media than you do with them in the physical world. If you’ve ever experienced separation anxiety from Instagram or any other similar platform – you may have a problem. Your sleep is constantly disrupted by notifications and late-night social media binges.
You’re aware that you have a problem, but don’t really care to do much about it. Your phone is now an extension to your arm and you can’t live without it. But do not worry. Even at this stage, you can easily get rid of the addiction.
Stage 5: Recovery
Not many are lucky enough to get to experience this stage. Technically there are only 4 stages to getting addicted to social media. But, we are officially adding this 5th stage to let you know that recovery from the addiction is definitely possible.
It’s all in your hands to take the measures to kick this addiction to the curb. You see the way it is affecting your life, work, and relationships. Do you not want to put an end to this misery? It may take some time but you can definitely say goodbye to this addiction once and for all. Check out this in-depth guide on how to beat social media addiction, you’ll thank us later. If you believe you’re extremely addicted, kindly get professional help. There are many experts and forums available both online and offline.