is social media addictive?

More than 15% of the world’s population use Facebook regularly
Can we lose control of our online networking behaviour

In a 2011 survey, 54 percent of social media users described themselves as ‘addicts’, to at least a small degree. Online media statistics give some perspective to the social media world:

  • Facebook has 1.4 billion profiles and 1.06 billion of those profiles use Facebook regularly
  • Instagram was launched in 2010 and now has 200 million active users, only four years later
  • LinkedIn, launched in 2003, has 300 million users. Forty percent of LinkedIn users check the website daily
Why has social media become part of daily life for so many?

Harvard University conducted a study on the addictiveness of social media. Following a series of experiments, researchers concluded that disclosing information about oneself engages pleasure centres of the brain; the same parts of the brain stimulated by activities like eating or receiving money. And interestingly, levels of pleasure decreased when participants were told that the personal information they were sharing in the experiments would be kept a secret from friends or family. This suggests that disclosing personal information publicly brings the discloser pleasure.

media syringeSocial media is very popular. It allows many people to express themselves in ways they might not be able to ‘offline’. Sites like Facebook permit users to mimic qualities of self-esteem and self-worth.

Social media sites act as a kind of PR for many users, who learn very quickly they can present themselves in any way they might choose.

Some social media users may seek personal validation through the connections they make with other users, while others use the sites like Facebook and Instagram as platforms for creativity or self-expression.

A hand-held mobile device can make social media users feel ‘connected’ to other users, and close to friends and family.

What constitutes unhealthy social media habits?

There may be certain behavioural factors that suggest an individual has an unhealthy relationship with social media:

  • Using social networking for extended periods of time, where sleep schedules may be interrupted or other tasks may not be completed.
  • Lying about the amount of time spent online could indicate a person has a sense that his relationship with social media is unhealthy.
  • People who prefer online social relationships to face-to-face human interactions could have developed an unhealthy relationship with social media.
  • When a person experiences a sense of loneliness or isolation when not online.
  • A person feeling guilt when online, or feelings depressed when offline.

It’s likely that social media is here to stay. In a handful of years, social media has changed the way people communicate, and changed the way people form and maintain relationships with others. For many people, it has become normal to share their life experiences, holiday photos, relationships, new cars, personal problems, failures and successes on the world wide web. Social media has been adopted by many as a kind of much-loved family member – accessible from any computer or mobile device.

Mariah Beckman’s full article can be found on the online media organisation website, The Guardian Liberty Voice.

Posts in Make Up Your Own Mind are random and reflect current affairs, social issues and observations that might encourage further thought. We don’t intend to promote any view of the matters brought to life here, one way or another.
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