Hands up if you don't have ANY social media accounts. *crickets*
Let’s be honest: with all the double-tapping, swiping, quick-fire commenting and selfie-taking, our generation could probably beat all other generations at a thumb war any day.
A third of the world uses social media. And recent research has shown that excessive social media can have damaging effects on the brain, similar to drug or gambling addictions.
If you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Pinterest, you may have exhibited one (if not ALL) of these five signs of having a psychological addition to social media:
You have a SHORT ATTENTION SPAN
Our attention spans are at an all-time low these days, even with social media. You’ll scroll, exit the app, scroll the new feed, toggle accounts, switch back, and on and on. You want to see it all, but in a short space of time. Oh, and ordinary tasks just seem so boring now. You’ve probably wondered at least once how you used to survive the daily commute without a full charge or headphones. When was the last time you were able to watch a movie at home without checking your phone every 20 minutes? How did you cope when arriving somewhere early without a mate?
You get impatient easily
Social media gives us that need for instant gratification. If it’s not going to entertain us or reward us, we’re quick to disregard and move on. FAST. You’ve probably already skimmed this article to the bottom to see the highlighted bold categories before deciding to read it all. Well, thanks for reading this far. There’s hope for you yet!
You have tech withdrawal symptoms
Have you ever felt your phone vibrate or heard it beep when nothing was there? This sensation is called “phantom vibrations”. It’s your brain’s way of feeding your addiction.
You feel happier when you're using social media
Do notifications give you a sense of satisfaction? A social media addiction can release dopamine to your brain’s reward centre. As a result, you’ll want to post more or check back frequently to continue getting that happy high.
It's the first thing you do in the morning
Does scrolling through your feeds before you’ve even rolled out of bed help you function in the morning? If you feel like social media can wake you up more than a shower or a coffee, you might have some dependency issues.
Having no tech makes you anxious
Does leaving your phone at home or having no reception make you downright uneasy or give you serious FOMO? Or do you obsess over what other people posted on their weekend because it makes you feel envious or sad?
You're spending half your day on it without noticing
When you’re addicted to social media, you could be spending up to four hours on it per day without even realising! How many times do you open your apps each day? How many times have you gotten lost in a Wikipedia or YouTube wormhole, only to emerge hours later wondering how you ended up watching a video of a unicycling, bagpipe-playing Gandalf?
Test your addiction with this video. We DARE you!
That was A LOT harder than you thought it would be, right?!
What is your social media addiction doing to your brain?
The Macquarie Dictionary defines addiction as “the state of being addicted to some habit, practice, or substance, especially to narcotics.”
According to clinical psychology expert Birendra Yadav, social media addicts can show similar behaviour patterns to narcotic addicts, such as the inability to abstain, impairment in behaviour control, craving, diminished recognition of significant behavioural problems, interpersonal issues and a dysfunctional emotional response.
Excessive users or those who are addicted are also likely to trigger the parts of the brain associated with rewards, pleasure and impulsiveness, which indirectly encourages further use.
How to detox the digital drug
Firstly, you need to admit you have an addiction. Then (and only then) can you work to curb it with the tips, below.
- Be more mindful of what you’re doing online, and why. Is what you’re doing is worth your time?
- Speaking of time, try having a time limit on your interaction with your accounts. Watch and keep a record of how long you spend on your apps and try to reduce it every week.
- If social media has become your hobby, take up some more hobbies. Read more books, get into fitness, learn to cook – anything that will take your mind off your phone will do wonders.
- If the reason you’re on the apps is to be social, perhaps try to arrange social gatherings in REAL LIFE. It will last longer than your quick scroll and will be way more rewarding.
- Seek help! Not in the take-me-to-social-media-rehab way (yes, they exist). Tell your friends so they can support you. Or download a handy app that can record and limit your time on the apps per week or lock you out of apps between work hours, etc.
Continue your detox here, with our nine ways to beat your social media addiction.
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