Social media has a way of sucking people into a constant loop of hitting refresh to check for new stories, comments or notifications. It’s easy to mindlessly browse social media during a lunch break at work, and social media sites might even be the first sites many of us automatically type into a web browser after starting the computer. But daily use of social media isn’t enough to call it an addiction. Most of us can tear ourselves away from social media when something else requires our attention. It’s when this ability is lost that a true problem has begun. For those who so struggle with a social media addiction, help is available.
What Is a Social Media Addiction?
Social media addiction is a type of process addiction, as opposed to an addiction to a substance like drugs or alcohol. The behavior or process of getting on social media, checking for notifications, browsing posts, commenting and engaging with other users becomes addictive when it begins to have a detrimental effect on the rest of one’s life. Do these signs and symptoms sound familiar?
- Feeling angry or irritable when interrupted from social media use.
- Using social media even though it distracts you from important schoolwork or a paying job.
- Continuing to use social media at inappropriate times despite being warned not to by a boss or parent, to the point that relationships with these people become damaged.
- Attempting to use social media even though it may be dangerous to do so, such as when driving.
- Using social media even though it may be considered rude to do so, such as in a movie theater or while out to eat.
- Withdrawing from social activities or hobbies that used to bring joy in order to browse social media.
- Finding solace and joy in social media but not in other pursuits that used to provide the same emotional benefits.
- Having difficulty sleeping due to a desire to use social media.
- Feeling anxious or panic-stricken if unable to access social media.
Any activity is problematic when it interferes with our ability to enjoy life outside of that activity, or when our relationships and responsibilities suffer due to that activity. If someone has tried to point out that you use social media too often, or if you frequently get into arguments with your parents or significant other over your use of social media, you may need to consider the possibility that you have a genuine addiction. On the other hand, if someone you love seems to have a social media addiction, help them to understand that it is a real and serious problem that can be treated.
Social Media Addiction Help Is Available
As with other process addictions, it’s important to work with a counselor or therapist in order to establish a treatment program and to evaluate progress. Ideally you can work with a therapist who has experience treating patients with social media addiction, but since this is a relatively new addiction, a therapist with experience in other process addictions (such as shopping, gambling or exercising) is an excellent choice, too. Quitting any addictive substance or process “cold turkey” is never easy, but it is one option. However, your therapist may instead suggest a gradual decline in the use of social media. In order to make this possible, you will work together to establish boundaries. It may also be useful for your family to be involved in the treatment process so that they can hold you accountable. The goal of social media addiction treatment is to restore your ability to enjoy life. When the days are tough and you struggle to get your mind off of social media sites, remember that you’re doing this for yourself. It will be difficult, but worth it. Resources http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/social-media-addiction-peak_us_56ab9360e4b0010e80e9c71e