Social media addiction is a serious problem. Spending extended amounts of time on social media in place of meaningful, healthy activities can be a costly mistake, not only emotionally and mentally, but financially too.

The more time you spend on social media instead of meaningful work, the greater risk there is of being financially unstable and lower on the socioeconomic ladder.

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Social media addiction is characterized as a behavioral addiction where a person logs onto social media websites and spends an inordinate amount of time on those websites to the detriment of other important activities such as tending to family and friends or work.

Are you addicted to social media ?

According to medical literature, you may be addicted to social media if you exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Pre-occupation with social media and everything therein
  2. You experience severe withdrawal symptoms when you spend time away from social media
  3. You partake in social media to promote good feelings and reduce negative ones
  4. You use it to get the same pleasure from it over a gradual period of time
  5. Sacrifice time from other areas of life in favor of spending time on social media, thus causing harm to other areas of life

Other signs of addiction to social media include:

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use it
  • Strong/significant urges to use social media more and more
  • Using social media to disconnect from reality and their personal problems
  • Trying and failing at discontinuing the use of social media
  • Restlessness or troubled thoughts when away from social media
  • When away from social media it has a profound negative impact on work, study, family, or any other area of life.

Social media addiction is also characterized by negative mental health and low self-esteem, as research has shown. Like anything else, social media platforms have their positives; however, using them too often can be a detriment, leaving people increasingly anxious, unsatisfied, and isolated.

Put another way, using too much social media can lead to increased negative emotions. These emotions are produced due to the pressure that comes with posting on social media, which includes feeling inadequate at the attention that others receive, feeling the need to compare your entire life with the few bright spots that people conveniently share, and comparing yourself too heavily altered/filtered photos that people post with the intent on making themselves look better than they actually are.

Studies have shown that people who use social media frequently believe that others are happier in their lives than they are. Frequent use of social media can not only leave one feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with their own life, but also lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Let’s be honest, comparing one’s self to others is a natural human thing, but on social media, this phenomenon and the negative feelings it causes are increased by orders of magnitude, which, in turn, can have a pronounced negative effect on frequent users.

People who use social media too often at the expense of their own mental health typically have a distorted view of reality. When they see the heavily filtered pictures on social media, they begin to feel inadequate about themselves and their own lives. They think to themselves, “why can’t I be that attractive?” or “Why can’t I afford to go on vacation?” not realizing that the people who posted these pictures are posting only the best moments from their lives for clicks and likes, not the mundane reality which is usually the truth. Social media fosters a landscape where people compare their reality offline with the heavily edited and seemingly perfect lives of other posters, which can negatively affect one’s mental health and perception of themselves and their reality.

How to detox from social media ?

 Luckily, social media addiction is entirely treatable for most anyone. A “digital detox” is where one drastically reduces the amount of time they spend on electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones (if not outright abstaining from them). This can also include steps such as designated time periods in where one turns off their notifications or a designated time of the day where there is no time spent looking at any of the aforementioned electronic devices. Doing so allows one to refresh their focus on reality and actual social connections, and lessens the dependency on social media.

Social media addiction boils down to poor time management and a lack of self-discipline. There’s no magical cure for social media addiction except simply spending less time on social media platforms, or completely cutting yourself off from social media entirely. The process can be as gradual as you need it to be, but to completely kick the habit of social media addiction, simply turning your phone, laptop, or computer off for a while is a good first step.