What to do about it
How to End Social Media Addiction and Protect Your Mental Health
With the advent of the social media age, the concept of addiction to online social platforms has become increasingly concerning.
Defined as a behavioural addiction, a social media addiction will involve being highly and overly concerned about social media and how you are driven to use it.
However, there is a fine line. Most of us spend hours on social media every day, but it begins to become a problem when it affects our behaviour, the way we think and the way we act.
Since 2014 Digital detoxes have been prescribed for people spending an uncontrollable time online.
According to the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), increasing numbers of people are losing control of the amount of time that they spend online.
Smarmore’s addiction team agree that internet addiction is on the increase. The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale can help people gauge your Facebook use.
Our rehab was founded in 1988 by Peter and Dr Margaret Ann McCann, as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from alcohol, behavioural and drug addictions. More.
How can we stop social media addiction?
- There are many ways you can attempt to stop your social media addiction, simple changes like turning off notifications, placing your phone elsewhere when you sleep, or taking your phone out of your morning routine and performing digital detox may be a good place to begin.
However, if you develop a psychological addiction to the internet or social media, the best way forward as advised by therapy team is to seek out a specialist addictions clinic like Smarmore Castle that have programmes in place to rewire the brain and help you manage your addiction issues.
What causes addiction to social media?
- Social media can often cause depression, feelings of isolation and even illness. The causes for this come from constant comparisons, the lack of attention of views or likes on your post; making you feel unpopular and inadequate, the feeling of missing out and the inability to keep up with others, arguments, disrespectful comments and perceiving that others live a “picture-perfect life” compared to your own.
How much time on social media counts as addiction?
- The guidance is somewhat unclear, as addictions can happen at any point in a timeline. However, it is advised that if you spend more than 5 hours a day on social media you could be harming your mental health.
If social media makes you feel insecure or unhappy with your own life, we’re here to help. Give us a call on +353 41 214 5111.
The average user will spend 136 minutes on social networking sites daily
According to a new study published in the Journal of Behaviour Addictions, spending time on countless social media platforms cannot only waste many hours of your day but it has been found that excessive use can begin to affect the person’s decision-making as well as encouraging them to engage in “risky behaviours.”
- UK adults will spend on average 8 hours and 41 minutes looking at screens daily. This accounts for more time spent on phones, laptops and other devices than on sleep. Source.
- On average, we all spend one day a week entirely online. Source.
- In the last ten minutes, only 66% of people have not checked into Facebook. Source.
The same impaired decisiveness is found in the brains of people with substance use disorders
The lead author of the study, Dar Meshi has found a similar connection in the brain of SNS (social networking site) users to what is seen with those addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This means that social media or internet addictions should not be taken lightly or be taken any less seriously than any other addiction that’s treated in inpatient care.
SNS users display:
- A preoccupation with social platforms even when they are not being used
- Mood modifications noticeable when these sites are visited
- Conflict with others surrounding their use
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit
- Often relapse
- A difficulty making value-based decisions
What are the long term effects?
Since social media and the internet is a relatively new technology, there are very few studies that outline and establish the long-term consequences of excessive social media use.
However, many new and multiple studies are beginning to emerge, which have found a strong link between anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-harm and suicidal thoughts amongst heavy social media users.
Bad for the brain
Social media and the internet have the power to capture your attention as well as scatter it. Not only will it eventually lead to poorer cognitive performance, but it will also shrink the part of the brain that’s associated with focusing attention.
Long-term heavy users experience:
- An inability to multitask
- Poor performance on cognitive tests
- Disturbed sleep
- Exposure to bullying
- Changes in memory processes
- Reward pathways change to give you a ‘happy’ hormone every time you get a notification
Are you addicted?
The brain scans seen in heavy social media and those addicted to the internet look very similar to the brain scans of those addicted to gambling and drugs.
Figuring out an addiction can be difficult, especially in today’s society where even 62% of adults say they “hate” the amount of time they spend on their phones. Given this statistic, why does this percentage of the population not turn off their phones? Are they addicted to social media?
Signs and symptoms of addiction
- You check social media first thing in the morning when you finish work, or any moment you have free
- Your first instinct is to reach for your phone
- Social media hinders your productivity
- You become anxious when you cannot check your social media
- You consistently check how your posts perform
- You overthink your posts and spend a considerable amount of time planning out your feed or stories
- Social media or the internet does not just take up your time but your headspace
- You think your phone goes off when it doesn’t
- You neglect offline hobbies
Do you relate to the above and don’t know what to do? Find out below.
What to do about internet addiction?
If you relate to any of the above, or if you personally feel like you have developed a relationship with your phone or computer that is not healthy, we recommend undergoing a digital detox in the form of private residential care.
We have help thousands of others overcome their addiction and cope with poor mental health.
We’ll help you navigate through your addiction and teach you essential coping mechanisms that you can use in your daily life so you can become the best version of yourself.
Call us on +353 41 214 5111.
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Last updated & clinically assessed 23 July, 2021