Time to Log Off? When Social Media Use Becomes Too Much

It’s hard to imagine life without social media. Wherever we are, people are always on their phones, regularly posting about their lives and receiving updates from their friends. Organizations find social media handy for engaging with and sharing news to their clients, and we get practically real-time updates about what’s happening around the world.

While social media has many benefits, too much of it can be harmful. When you’re starting to feel that life revolves around refreshing Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you might have a problem.

What is Social Media Addiction?

The Addiction Center defines social media addiction as a behavioral addiction that involves a compulsion to use social media so frequently and habitually that it damages one’s physical, mental, social, or financial well-being.

Although many people regularly use social media, a few of them are genuinely addicted. A person affected by social media addiction exhibits the same signs as one with alcohol or substance use disorder:

  • Change in mood
  • Increasing use of social media over time
  • Anxiety and irritation when social media use is restricted or stopped
  • Social isolation
  • Unhealthy sleep patterns

When Social Media Becomes a Problem

Too much social media use can affect you both physically and mentally. It can change the way you view yourself and the world, and it’s not always for the better.

Too much social media can affect your life in many ways, such as:

  • Developing mental health illnesses. Immersing yourself too much on social media makes you more prone to depression and anxiety.
  • Ruined relationships. You might distance yourself from family and friends by choosing to browse your phone, or you might get into a nasty fight with them online.
  • Low self-esteem. Photos you see of your friends lounging in Long Beach or some other gorgeous locale might trigger envy or a fear of missing out on experiences that someone else is getting.
  • Impacts on an ongoing case. Your attorney will not appreciate it if you share information that could affect your case, whether it’s for a divorce or a wrongful death.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle. Sitting on your computer or phone for long periods can lead to harmful effects on your overall physical health.

Why Does Social Media Addiction Happen?

A study by Harvard University showed that social media use ignites the same part of the brain that lights up when you take alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances. When you experience something rewarding, neurons in the main dopamine-producing areas of the brain are activated, causing an increase in dopamine levels.

When you get a like or comment, dopamine rushes through the brain, causing you to feel pleasure. Since social media is a seemingly endless source of immediate rewards, the brain rewires itself, making you desire likes, retweets, and comments.

How You Can Stop Social Media Addiction

social media apps on screen

If you feel like you’re developing a social media addiction, detoxify by reducing the time spent on smartphones or computers. You can:

  • Deactivate your social media accounts.
  • Uninstall all social media apps from your phone.
  • Block all social media sites from your computers, laptops, and tablets. You’ll find various web browser extensions that block sites for all connected devices.
  • Replace social media for another activity like exercising or taking up a new hobby.

Social media can be excellent as a form of entertainment, and it is handy for keeping in touch and spreading information. But like other things, use it wisely and with moderation.

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