We hear much these days on the importance of social media. Applications like Facebook and Twitter allow us to stay connected with friends and family around the world. We have instant access to information, photos, videos, and updates of their lives. But as with most things in life, there are potential consequences and research is determining people are just as likely, if not more, to become addicted to social media as they are other things.
The difficulty with this instant technology is that it has become so completely integrated into our lives. We use social media multiple times each day, relying on it as a primary source of information. It is often considered to be easier to communicate through social media sites than it is to communicate face-to-face or on the telephone. Access to social media is not only instantaneous though. Research indicates that high levels of prolonged usage are more common amongst the younger members of society and among women.
What is a Social Media Addiction
Addictions are about fulfilling something. Some people are drawn to addictive substances or behaviors because of the way they make them feel. By their very nature, humans possess a strong feeling to be connected to others and constantly have a sense of needing to belong somewhere. Social media has offered people a way to accomplish this like never before. You can be connected to the world around you twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. It is extremely accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Over time though, this connection can slowly become a need. The immediacy of the connection to people and access of information can offer such overwhelming and euphoric emotions; it can be difficult to turn away from them. When hand held devices and mobile phones are added in, the ease of availability increases even more so. Even those who have low self esteem can constantly search to fulfill their urge to connect without fear of being rejected. Having an online personality is easier for some people and their social and emotional needs are quickly fulfilled. The amount of time spent online is rarely questioned and this is where the danger of a possible addiction can come into play.
Determining a Possible Addiction
So, what makes a person addicted to the various forms of social media? Are you addicted simply because you are one who enjoys connecting with your family and friends on a regular basis? If you check your Facebook page first thing in the morning, does that make you a social media addict? The reality is that an addiction to social media can be marked with many of the same symptoms as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Feelings and emotions will be one of the first things you can assess when determining an addiction to social media. For those who are truly addicted, anxiety is often one of the main emotions you may feel when you do not have access to your social media outlets.
An inability to step away from social media for a set period of time (usually at least twenty-four hours) is another aspect of potential addiction. Individuals who suffer from an addiction will often be unable to go without their addictive substance for any length of time.
If social media has a negative impact on your life, there is a good chance you may be suffering from an addiction. Some individuals will allow their addiction to control what they do. They may choose time online over actual face time with their immediate friends or family. Their work may slip because they are spending too much time online.
Fixing the Addiction
Unlike an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there are usually no physical side effects from lowering your usage or stopping completely. You will be battling behaviors that have built up overtime, so it will not be an easy decision to cut down social media time. But, it is extremely doable. Monitor your time online by keeping a journal to clearly see how much time you are spending online. Remove applications from your Smartphone or any handheld devices to limit how often you have access to the sites. You will be responsible for monitoring your own behavior. Of course, finding a group or at least a buddy to help keep you accountable is always very smart when you are battling an addiction.
Technology has become so completely integrated into our lives and it is obvious it will not be going anywhere soon. That is why it is so important to learn to monitor your behavior and limit your time online. Of course, there is always the option of unplugging from the technological world we live in every now and then. Take the time to enjoy the world and the people around you. Spark up conversations and make commitments to have at least one meal a day without your Smartphone or other technology.