Social media, especially Facebook, has become almost an essential part of everyday life for billions of people. It has made keeping in contact with friends and family as easy as opening an app. Instagram gives people the chance to show off every photographable aspect of their life. There are new social networks that come out on a regular basis but social use does have a bad side.
There have been studies that have shown the bad about too much social media. Some claim the bad outweigh the good, but over 1 billion still have Facebook accounts and log in daily.
Some people have even developed an addiction to social media. Others have developed anxiety around certain social media sites (Pinterest anxiety- the need to try to live up to the “Pinterest perfect” images and lifestyles and Instagram also causes anxiety due to pictures of “perfect lives.”)
Social media addiction is similar to gaming addiction. It’s seen as an addiction while not recognized in the DSM, it is seen as problematic. There are some signs you may be addicted to one or all social networks.
- Feeling anxious if you’re unable to log on. Pretty much any time you’re anxious over not being able to access something, that’s not a necessity, it’s usually a sign that you have an unhealthy relationship. If you find that any time you’re not on social media or you’re not getting high enough engagement (likes, shares, retweets, reactions or comments) you are also getting highly anxious, that can show you’re not using social networking healthily.
- You find that social media consumes work, family, hobbies, other important time. If you are sitting in an important meeting at work or on a date night/date and find you’re wanting to check your social accounts more than you’re wanting to pay attention to what you’re doing, you have a problem at least- if not a full addiction. If your family, friends, kids or partner think you spend too much time online or that you’re not paying enough attention when you’re with them, listen and think about trying to detox.
- Do you spend more time focused on how to post an event than actually enjoying it? Do you find you’re watching milestones or parties, vacations more through the lense of your camera so you can upload on social media sites? It’s normal to go out and take a lot of pictures, especially special events or when you have young kids but if you’re doing it just to get the perfect shots for any social media platform, it may be a problem.
Besides just consuming too much of your time, you may find that a social media addiction hurts you and your life in several ways.
- It hurts your self-esteem. You become dependent on the validation from gaining lifes, shares, comments and other reactions. It ends up feeding into your self esteem and you find that you need the validation.
- Depression- almost all addictions can or do lead to depression.
- Heightened anxiety- if you share something and don’t get enough response, if you have time you need to stay offline or if you think about something postable but can’t share it immediately, it can cause anxiety to build up.
- You can find yourself mindlessly scrolling while at work or while you need to be working and it can result in job loss or loss of potential financial gain (if you’re self employed). Almost all addictions get worse without being controlled and will seep into your professional life.
- Your personal life takes a hit. The people you care about can get fed up coming in second to a website and you can lose friends and even have relationships end.
If you find that your social media use is beyond your control and you’re not sure how to get control of your life back, you may have an addiction.
There are some ways to help curb the addiction. There are addiction counselors you can talk to, just check that they can work with social media addiction. You can also find a challenge like the old “99 Days of Freedom” Facebook fast challenge and apply it to all social networks.
They say to quit social media for just one month to help build better habits but if you’re looking at a full addiction, you may want to go more extreme at first. If you do that, you may want to speak with a professional while quitting since the anxiety can get intense. Years ago, a website “99 Days of Freedom” came out as a way of challenging people to log off Facebook or deactivate their account for a total of 99 days. The website is no longer up, but many websites have covered the challenge (Time, Businessinsider, Forbes, just to name a few).
Psychology Today has an article about doing a “digital detox” to help habitual users cut back on their social use, if you feel you’re in the beginning stage of addiction but not fully consumed yet, that may be for you.
There are a lot of jokes about spending too much time on social media but addiction is no joke. If you find yourself actually addicted to using it, speaking with a professional would be your best start. You may find that you have to delete your account, deactivate your account for a prolonged time or limit what device you can access your social media. There are many benefits to social networks. You can keep in touch with people a lot easier, you can use it to advertise websites or businesses, you can use it to make money or meet new people but if you find yourself consumed by your online presence to the point it starts interfering with your sleep, personal or professional life or your mental health, it’s time to log off and reevaluate your use.