Is Social Media Addiction Real?

Over the last decade, the use of social media has risen at an exponential rate. Along with the huge increase in usage comes a worry about people developing a social media addiction. 

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X (formally Twitter), and TikTok have become an integral part of our daily lives. It's hard to deny the impact they've had on society. 

While these platforms offer incredible opportunities for communication, self-expression, and networking. There's growing concern about the negative consequences associated with excessive use.  

social media addiction - people on phones

What Is Social Media Addiction?

Social media addiction, also known as "problematic social media use" or "social media disorder," is a concept that's gaining recognition among mental health professionals.  

While it's not yet classified as a formal mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), many experts and researchers believe it warrants attention and further study. 

A social media addiction fits into the category of behavioural addictions. It refers to the compulsive, excessive use of social media platforms that interferes with one's daily life, responsibilities, and overall well-being.  

It’s important to note that, as with many other addictions, not everyone who uses social media has a social media addiction. There are people who use social media in a normal, healthy way. 

Why Is Social Media So Addictive?

Social media's addictive nature is a compelling topic of research and discussion. It's essential to explore the underlying factors that make these platforms so captivating.  

Several key elements contribute to social media's addictive qualities. First, using social media can make our brains feel good. When we get likes, shares, comments, or messages, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes us feel happy. This encourages us to keep coming back for more.  

Additionally, on social media, we seek approval and recognition from others. When people like and comment on our posts, it shows that they like what we're doing. This can make us want to use social media more to get even more approval and attention. 

Signs of Social Media Addiction

Identifying social media addiction can be challenging because it often starts innocently. Some common signs include: 

Increased usage: Spending a disproportionate amount of time on social media, often at the expense of other important activities. 

Withdrawal symptoms: Feeling depressed, irritable, or anxious when unable to use social media. 

Neglecting responsibilities: Neglecting work, school, or family obligations due to social media use. 

Isolation: Withdrawing from in-person social interactions in favour of online relationships. 

Failed attempts to cut down: Unsuccessful efforts to reduce social media usage. 

Loss of interest in other activities: Social media becomes the primary source of pleasure and entertainment. 

The Negative Effects of Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction can have profound negative consequences on one's mental and emotional well-being. Excessive use can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem.  

Social media can also strain real-life relationships, hinder productivity, and affect physical health due to decreased physical activity and poor sleep patterns. 

Addiction to social media can lead to a vicious cycle of seeking validation through likes, comments, and shares, which can lead to a distorted sense of self-worth.  

Also, the constant exposure to carefully curated images and content on these platforms can foster unrealistic comparisons and unattainable standards. These increase feelings of inadequacy, affecting people’s self-esteem. 

Seeking Help and Recovery at New Leaf

Recognising and addressing social media addiction is essential for those who find themselves struggling. Addiction recovery centres, like New Leaf Recovery, have the facilities to offer support and therapy. As well as other resources to help individuals move on from the grip of social media addiction.  

Just as with substance abuse or other addictive behaviours, treatment can involve therapy, counselling, and the development of healthier coping mechanisms. 

Recovery from social media addiction typically begins with self-awareness and a commitment to change. It's essential to set boundaries, manage screen time, and seek professional help when necessary. 

New Leaf Recovery is here to provide guidance, support, and solutions for those struggling with social media addiction.  

If either yourself, a family member or a friend could be struggling with a social media addiction, or any other addiction, don't hesitate to reach out to us at New Leaf and begin your journey toward a healthier, more balanced digital life.