Being addicted to social media is a real threat in today’s modern world. Social media sites are virtual communities where users can create public profiles and interact with other people. Such communities create the illusion of real-life intimacy. Thus, this illusion is a contributing factor in teens’ social media addictions.
Being addicted to social media takes different forms and addresses different desires. For example, Instagram addiction provides visual stimulation, while Facebook addiction is more about experiential interactions. Nevertheless, like any form of addiction, becoming addicted to social media is a real danger for young people.
What Does it Mean to be Addicted to Social Media?
Social media addiction, like Internet addiction, is a behavioral addiction. While being addicted to social media is not yet recognized by the medical community, most people who are online use social media sites. Social media addiction can lead to cyberbullying, as well as psychologically damaging exposure to inappropriate content. Ironically, being addicted to social media often isolates teens. Egocentrism and narcissism have been linked to social media addiction.
The genesis of teens being addicted to social media is Facebook addiction. Facebook currently has more than two billion active users, of whom more than 50 percent log on several times a day. Additionally, 71 percent of teens use Facebook.
Originally designed for Facebook addiction, the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale is a survey used by psychologists to test whether or not people are addicted to social media. The questions focus on escapism, obsessive thinking about social media sites, an inability to limit the use of social media, and withdrawal symptoms when not using social media. Like other behavioral addictions, a social media addiction can have a negative impact on work, academics, family interactions, and overall social life.
Sources: UCLA’s Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Psychology Today, Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (USC), US National Library of Medicine (NIH), Pew Research Center