Are you addicted to social media?

Are you addicted to social media?

The numbers

Do you get the feeling that people are increasingly glued to their smartphones and tablets? You’re not imagining things! Here are the latest statistics :

  • There are 2.3 billion active users of social media on the earth. The world’s population is estimated at 7 billion.
  • In Canada, there are 25 million active social media users, 21 million consult them on their smart devices.
  • Facebook users spend an average of 20 minutes daily on the platform.
  • Every minute, more than 300 hours of videos are posted on YouTube.

Take the test

Does social media take up too much of your time? It’s time to find out.

  • The first thing I do in the morning is check my Facebook feed.
  • At the kitchen table, screens are more important than food or family discussions.
  • When I’m waiting in line, I kill time on my smartphone. Always.
  • WiFi Internet service is THE most important factor when booking a hotel room abroad.
  • If I forgot my phone at home, my day would be ruined.

If these statements all ring true for you, then you’re probably more addicted to social media than you think.

Does social media addiction really exist?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, social media addiction is not yet classified as a mental disorder.

The situation is being closely monitored and the option of including social media addiction in the next version of the DSM, like gambling and alcohol, is on the table.

To be deemed a disease, people with the condition must isolate themselves from their family and friends, and their addiction must prevent them from functioning normally on a daily basis.

When your professional or personal life begins to suffer, it’s a sign that social media is taking up too much space.

Your brain is partly to blame

To explain why social media is fun, we have to understand the brain’s chemical reaction.

Commenting on an Instagram picture or liking on Facebook releases 2 chemicals in our brain: dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine is linked to pleasure and oxytocin to reward. You know that boost you get when you polish off an entire bag of chips? It’s the same chemical reaction that happens when our brain is on social media!

As for oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, it plays an important role in social interactions and bonding. Basically, oxytocin reduces our anxiety when we know we are surrounded by loved ones.

What to do when you are afflicted?

There are only so many hours in a day… so, if you spend most of them on social media, your actual social life will suffer.

OK, now what?

Quitting cold turkey

Use an agenda to dictate the hours you won’t be online. You may feel lost at first, but eventually, you will get used to not checking your devices.

The best way to do this is to rid yourself of your Internet connection for a few days.

You’ll be as good as cured!

Rediscover your alarm clock

Get a traditional alarm clock rather than an app on your phone. That way, you won’t be tempted to check your social media first thing in the morning.

Fill the void with meditation

Here and Now Meditation  teaches you to extricate yourself from social media to focus on the present moment.

Change your settings

Change your Facebook settings, specifically the alerts.

Clean up your friend list and reduce your reasons for logging on to social media.

Turn off all activity notification sounds.

Your brain will no longer get a dopamine overdose.

And what if it’s your teenager?

If your teenager is afflicted, try to understand why they surround themselves with social media. Are they trying to flee reality or are they living in a fantasy? By trying to understand their motivations, you will be better able to get the help they need.

Cognitive behavioural therapy could be considered.