With a large number of the world’s population now connected online through social media, psychosocial health advocates and experts are now worried about how social media addiction is affecting people’s digital health. For users who recognize this risk, the question is whether or not they can use social media without becoming addicted.
Defining Social Media Addiction
Not everyone who logs into social networks are social media addicts. This term is not medically or scientifically coined to refer to a disease or a disorder affecting a person’s digital well-being. It is used to refer to the excessive use of social media in a way that interferes with daily living.
The seemingly harmless activity of connecting with family and friends online through social media possibly becomes harmful when people engage in it excessively. They no longer have time for their other activities, it has been speculated. When they need to log off and be away from their screens, they feel anxious and uncomfortable. This creates problems when they have other commitments and responsibilities to fulfill.
It becomes an addiction when the person is already dependent on the activity to satisfy his often self-declared needs. Experts have suggested that social media addiction is even more serious than alcohol and nicotine addiction. The activity was found to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same way as food and sex.
Dangers of Social Media Addiction
Over 3 billion people all over the world are social media users, 210 million of which are considered as social media addicts. More specific studies have been conducted all over the world to identify the ill effects of social media addiction.
- Depressive tendencies – these were observed in teenagers, specifically young females, who spent at least 5 hours each day on their phones. Young females who were more vulnerable to social media addition were found to have low self-esteem and narcissistic personalities.
- Lack of sleep – this is an obvious result of staying online and not wanting to miss a single second of what goes on in the social networks. Those who do sleep but cannot leave their online world, choose to keep their phones next to them as they sleep. This is true for about 71% of Americans.
The study further concluded that screen exposure is a big factor in the development of sleep disorders. Nearly half of those who reportedly spent more than the average amount of time on their phones were found to have difficulties sleeping.
- Driving distractions – distracted driving is among the most common causes of road accidents these days. In most of these accidents, teens are involved. A study by AT&T revealed that 90% of those who drive use their phones while they’re driving. About half of these drivers said that they do so to check their social media feeds.
Safe Social Media Use
Every online user has a choice and can certainly decide, where, when, and for how long to stay connected on their social media account. No one should feel compelled to be available to interact with on the social networks. You can use social media without becoming addicted.
You have to be clear on what your goals are in your online activities. You also have to acknowledge and commit to the fact that social media is just one aspect of your social life (or professional life, for those who do it as part of their job or for business).
Here are some of the other things that you can do in order to maintain your digital health and spare yourself from becoming addicted to social media:
- Allocate time properly – there’s a time for everything. Social media, whatever your purpose is for using them, should only take up a portion of your day. It is highly unlikely that everything that you should do everyday can all be done on social media.
Think of all your tasks and responsibilities and make a schedule. You can choose to designate your break times for your social media activities. You have to make sure, however, that you do not go beyond your scheduled break. Be strong enough to resist the temptation of staying online “for 5 more minutes, or maybe 10.”
- Engage in a variety of activities – find other things that you enjoy doing or that make you happy. Surely, you have other interests and hobbies in the real world. Get off your chair and walk away from your computer screen. You can exercise, start a new DIY project, play with your kids, or even just have a cup of coffee as you watch the sunset from your kitchen window. There’s a whole lot more that you can enjoy when you do not let your social media activities affect your digital well-being.
- Turn off your notifications – one of the selling points of various apps is the notification feature that ‘alerts’ you about updates, new posts, and friend requests among others. Instead of serving as a productivity tool, however, these notifications distract you and trigger the need for you to check your social media feeds.
- Take a break from social media – you will not die if you go without social media for a day or even for just a few hours. This is not an easy thing to do for those who have already become social media addicts. Those who remain in control of their social media activities will not see this as an issue at all.
You can also designate no gadget times or areas in your house. No one – for instance, is allowed to bring out his phone during dinner. Some modern apps have been developed to help with this issue. With these apps, you can set a schedule when you want to be logged out of your social media accounts.
- Designate no gadget times or areas – you cannot possibly use your gadgets if they are not within your reach. For the times when you schedule your social media breaks, make sure that your digital gadgets are not easily accessible to you. At bedtime, make sure that you do not bring your phones and gadgets into the bedroom.
Social media addiction is not impossible to avoid. There are easy steps that you can take in order to prevent it from happening. To ensure that you are taking care of your digital health, assess yourself regularly. This way, you can easily catch yourself when you are sliding towards social media addiction.
Originally published at www.goboldfish.com