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.
Do you have a social media addiction? 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 or other behaviors, including:
- Feelings of anxiety when you don’t have access to your social media outlets.
- An inability to step away from social media for a set period of time (usually at least 24 hours).
- Choosing time online over actual face time with immediate friends or family, or letting work slip because you 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. Start with these steps:
- Monitor your time online. Keep a journal to clearly see how much time you are spending online.
- Limit how often you have access to the sites. Remove applications from your Smartphone or any handheld devices.
- Find a group or buddy to help keep you accountable. This is always very smart when you are battling an addiction.
Go Ahead and Unplug
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.