Social Media Addiction and Danger

Table of Content

Denotatively, Addiction is defined as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” (American Society of Addiction Medicine) Individuals that perpetually engage in unhealthy habits such as overconsumption of fast food and social media has an increased likelihood of falling into endless loops of gratification seeking behaviors, with its detrimental effects gradually becoming more obscure. Fast food and social media companies feed of this, resulting in the perfect marketing strategy. This paper will highlight the striking resemblance between these daily activities to substance abuse, and provide awareness regarding its negative neurological effects.

Food consumption is an inevitable process in every day life, naturally required by humans as a fundamental power source for daily physiological functioning. Nonetheless, the consumption of detrimental nutrient sources such as fatty and unhealthy fast food has gradually increased in prevalence; as it has become one of the main food sources for many individuals, due to the cheap and convenient service offered by fast food restaurants, despite the general cognizance of its detrimental effects. When the intake of fast food becomes perpetual, it leads to constant dopamine production, which then triggers “reward” and “pleasure” centers in the brain. The more individuals partake in this process, the more individuals crave to continually experience these addictive sentiments of pleasure and satisfaction. This kind of recurring behavior consequently leads to the stimulation of brain “feel-good” control systems, which eventually negates other signals of satiety and hunger; therefore, a satisfaction habit through constant fast food consumption leads to multiple detrimental health effects such as obesity, stroke, and heart disease.

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Recently studied effects of nutritional content on neuronal activity have shown some of the many critical chemicals that are considered damaging for brain health and mental function such as: caffeine, additives, excessive salt, fat and sugar, and casein, operating as influencers and catalysts of incessant unhealthy eating habits. “High fat and high sugar foods are highly rewarding and excessive consumption leads to enduring alterations in brain regions involved in learning, memory, and reward.” (Reichelt, et al) The additives infused in fast food may not taste unfavorable and detrimental to the average consumer, but the long term effects it imposes offers a completely different perspective. A research conducted by neuroscientists, from the Department of Physiological Science, University of California at Los Angeles, tested animals by providing them with high fat and sugar content foods, and showed that two months on the high fat and sugar diet were enough to diminish hippocampal operation of BDNF and spatial learning ability (Molteni, et. al).

In addition to its neurological impacts, fast food companies simultaneously utilize psychological tactics that hook consumers such as: specific color schemes, sensory descriptions, bracketing, and children targeting. It’s a common conception that, many fast food companies place psychological hints throughout their products, operating as incentives to generate addictive overconsumption. Fast food companies generally use the color red and yellow, for their logos, restaurants, and advertisements, as these color tend to be associated with food, stimulus and attention, simultaneously causing an increase in heart rates. These psychological tactics are most effective among children; therefore, these fast food companies tend to cater majority of their advertisements towards these younger adolescents. Through the control of younger individuals, parents inevitably conform, settling for fast food instead of a healthier alternative.

Over the years, there have been significant progress in human technological advancements that paved the way for more efficient and innovative communication platforms. One of these innovations include the internet. As the internet is expanding, it gave birth to a platform of social networking sites called “social media” that has become globally ubiquitous. With these perpetual advancements, along with the development of a more technologically reliant society, an exponential growth of the usage of social media was bound to happen; so much so that indulging in social media has become a process integrated in our daily lives. It has created a medium for individuals to reach out to a variety of other individuals, whether locally or internationally. This created the perfect system for mass communication. Although social media may offer a variety of advantageous aspects, overexposure may instigate detrimental consequences that could be cognitively and psychologically damaging. Many of the affected individuals include young adolescents. This “can have a myriad of negative effects on individuals’ work, school and social functioning, wellbeing and psychological states, as well as on their sleep hygiene and long-term cardio-metabolic health.” (He, et al)

The psychological aspect behind the various functions of social media, heavily influences its excessive usage rate. Social media is created with an algorithm that promotes users to constantly “check” on different posts, comments or likes, further prompting an addictive cycle. Neurological studies have shown increased synaptic malleability among teenagers that indulge too much on social media. Neurologist from the University of California Los Angeles conducted a study that showed the neurological effects of social media on teenagers. This study showed how social media can possibly increase teenager’s synaptic malleability, which then “opens up the possibility of a child being more influenced by people who may engage in more risk-taking behavior” (qtd in Wolpert). A teenager’s developing brain is heavily affected, based on the different stimulus it is exposed to. The “likes” the individuals get when engaging in social media acts as a “dopamine producer”, prompting a dopamine high. The more these likes are received the more these neurological persists, eventually creating a dependence.

The gradual effects of fast food overconsumption and overexposure to social media may not initially be palpable to many individuals, but the more they engage in these type of activities, the more they become dependent on it’s stimulus eventually becoming an addiction. The resemblance of these activities to drug addiction is dramatically close as the habitual and behavioral products are very similar. In order to initiate an addictive cycle, a gush of dopamine must be experienced, and for that, the brain must have sufficient dopamine receptors, specifically D2 dopamine receptors. “The D2 receptor responds to dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is released in the brain by pleasurable experiences like food or sex or drugs like cocaine” (Cengage Learning) Addictive elements such as nicotine, methamphetamine and cocaine hooks users to create a loop of dopamine rush. Drug abusers with a low level of dopamine receptors, either from the beginning or when instigating the behavior, eventually have to seek stronger dopamine-inducing substances to get to a level of neurochemical gratification they can satisfyingly experience.

After an individual reliant on a substance withdraws, it generally takes a while for the diminished dopamine receptors to return to its baseline levels. Fast food and social media addiction operates in the same manner. “The reward pathways in the brain have been so overstimulated that the system basically turns on itself, adapting to the new reality of addiction, whether its cocaine or cupcakes” (Cengage Learning). The contents present in fast foods such as additives, caffeine and high levels of fat, and the likes button created by social media companies acts as the addictive elements. Renowned child specialist and pediatrician of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences: Dr. Salma Shaikh, mentioned that “eating hamburgers, chips and fat-loaded junk foods could be addictive and putting on weight may involve more than simply a loss of self-control.” (qtd in Rawalpindi)

The communal unawareness of the underlying impacts of frequent fast food consumption and overexposure to social media is a crucial benefiting factor to its persistent occurrence. Since this current generation is heavily drawn to conformity and social influences, there is a tendency to overlook the underlying impacts of significant subject matters. In this case, the knowledge of the neurological and psychological effects of these activities must be prevalent, since cognitive and physical health play a major factor in our survival. The many factors that contribute to the detrimental effects of fast food consumption include chemicals that are not discernable to the regular consumer, but may become more apparent subsequently through diseases, impairments and sickness. The more educated and informed a societal congregation becomes, the higher the chance of a healthier generation.

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Social Media Addiction and Danger. (2021, Nov 06). Retrieved from

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