Social media Addiction- what is it and do I have it?

What is Social Media Addiction?

Simply put, social media addiction is a habitual need to spend excessive amounts of time engaged in social media activities and on social media platforms. The habit is usually an automatic response to a negative sensation, such as boredom, confusion, loneliness, depression or anger. Like any addiction, social media addiction is an act in which you don’t have control over. It causes a slow, imperceptible change in our behaviour and perception of the world around us, changing how we think, what we do, how we act, and all of these are caused by the automatic response we have to social media and screen influences.

As a result of the short term reward and pleasure we experience from engaging on a social media platform, and an unconscious need being met through using social media, other areas of life like work and work performance, friendships, relationships and self-care can be neglected and a state of disconnection from self and from society starts to form.

Reports show the average person spends 135 mins a day on social media. Is this deliberate or a reaction to unconscious need being met and inability to process feeling and emotion?

Social media is being used the same way a child seeks his comforter. It is the grown-ups version of a pacifier.

Why do people turn to social media?

There are many varying reasons that we use to turn to social media incessantly, ranging from boredom and the inability to remain focused to event driven such as a relationship break up. Human beings have an essential need to belong, to relate and to feel connected and many turn to social media to achieve these experiences. While social media can seem like an interesting and easy way to feel connected, this repetitiveness actually has a significant effect on your brain.

Social media intrudes on our self-worth and identity as we now seek social approval from people we have never met us. We start to create and adapt our lives around a falsified version of reality and perfection and combine everything we see online with our own value system and authenticity by distorting it to fit what we see on social media.

Social media exploits vulnerability in human psychology- Sean Parker (former VP of Facebook)

What affect is it having on our brain?

Social media addiction changes the way our brain functions. Whenever we open and start engaging with our favourite apps, dopamine signals in your brain increase. Dopamine is a reward state neurotransmitter and so the more we open and engage in social media the more rewarding we find it as way our brain takes it as a positive reinforcement.

The more we do it, the easier it becomes as our brain now start to reorganize itself and form new connections between neurons. When new neural pathways are forged, new habits form.

Research shows that the more we share personal information and talk about ourselves the more this ‘feel good’ dopamine pleasure state is released- which may point to the reason behind social media’s success.

After a while your brain starts to search for more ways to enjoy this rewarding experience, so you might engage in writing a post to gain social feedback, trolling an account to express self-righteousness, on lurking on pages for some form or self-validation.

However, we know like many forms momentary satisfaction, the positive feelings experienced during social media use are only temporary. And so, as the feel-good dopamine wears off, you’ll quickly go back to the source for more.

Among promoting negative experiences such as inadequacy about your life, appearance and social image, prolonged use of social media platforms is associated with an increase in mood instability, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem and shows a decrease in well-being.

Research put some estimates of social media addiction as high as 40%, with studies showing individuals who are suffering from another mental health condition (e.g., anxiety, depression) or mood disorder are more vulnerable to forming a social media addiction.

People fall prey to the addictive influence social media has on the human psyche

Is there a consequence to too much social media?

The obvious and very short answer is yes! Social media affects your self-esteem leading to the belief that your life isn’t as good as other peoples, you’re not as talented or ambitious or driven or successful, or insert blank here as other people. It can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression and decreases your mood, leading to a surge in loneliness and feelings of hopelessness. It can drive up mental instability and make you more reactive and withdrawn. Can lower work or school performance, disrupt sleep patterns, decrease your drive and focus and reduce your physical activity. These are just to name a few.

The most apparent symptom of social media addiction is of course, a loss of connection from the world around us, which paradoxically was why social media came to be- as a form of connecting others.

Comparison is the thief of happiness

Signs of over use with social media

If you:

  • spend excessive amounts of time on social media each day

  • have disregard for the negative consequences and impact social media can have on your well-being

  • pick up your phone and open a social media app without any conscious intention

  • struggle to set and stick to limits for yourself on social media apps

  • neglect or struggle with fulfilling life’s responsibilities such as pursuing other interests and spending time with family

  • struggle to be engaged in conversations

  • spend time on social media apps while talking to others

  • get feelings of jealously, hopelessness or frustration while on social media apps,

  • go on the apps to feel some sense of self-worth, fulfillment or validation

  • go on social media apps when you’re board

this could be pointing to a reliance and behavioral dependence on social media platforms.

Social media is an addiction and manipulation based technology environment with its own goals and pursues them by using your own psychology against you. Tristen Harris – Former Google employee

How hypnotherapy can help you turn away from social media?

Research shows using less social media than you normally would significantly decrease the feelings of depression and loneliness but this can be so hard to do when we have become addicted to its use.

Hypnotherapy in combination with psychotherapy takes the approach of looking into the brains unconscious processes, looking at the “how” side of the equation. Since research tells us people that excessively use social media have higher rates and symptoms of depression, low self-esteem and anxiety as well as increased feelings of jealousy, loneliness and lack of self-worth, we take a strategic approach with you building up your discriminating strategies so your able to determine which of these feelings and thoughts are true, valid and useful.

This approach allows you a new way of thinking and behaving. The relaxed state allows for a different perspective of your addictive behavior. The power of suggestion is used to strengthen your willpower in overcoming your social media addiction.It creates a focused and energized context for you to explore and discover your individual capabilities and gives you a method for using them.

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