Social Media is Addicting Essay

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Throughout the years, technology has evolved from generation to generation. Now, our society relies on social media to connect with others and be involved. In today’s technological world we are swamped with a variety of connections such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and many more social media outlets. As the internet has progressed quickly, social media is continually growing. With this growth, there is much controversy over the addiction of social media in our day to day lives. Social media addiction has a negative impact on today’s society through mental illness, excessive usage, and biological and psychological reasons. Although some may think that it creates a place for influencers to succeed and make a profit, it can be detrimental to all ages. A large majority of people in today’s society own some type of technology ranging from smartphones, iPads, personal computers, and smartwatches.

We use these to communicate, network and be in-the-know no matter where you are in the world; with a simple click you have the ability to do anything. With all of this technology at just the tip of our fingers, it is easy to get addicted to the internet and even change who you are on social media. “Social media addiction is defined as any usage of social media that causes problems with daily functioning, completion of tasks, relationships, and or psychological deficits,” (SMA). With this, 41% of cell phone owners say they are “addicted” to their phones, showing a problem in our society today with cell phones, social media, and addiction (BIO). While social media causes problems in our daily lives through addiction, it also correlates with symptoms of mental illness. In an article by Ashford University, it focuses on the causes of social media addiction and illness. It is proven that social media usage has increased our populations’ depression, feeling of social isolation, poor self-esteem, and insecurities. With the increased exposure to social media, people have often felt, “The illusion that others are more popular due to the number of “friends” or “followers” they have… seeing pictures of a group of friends that you consider yourself to be close to but you weren’t invited to join them… seeing pictures of happy people enjoying their lives, which creates sadness and jealousy because your life doesn’t seem as grand… lack of “likes” to your post, resulting in feelings of disappointment and decreased self-esteem… seeing a love interest with someone else may make you feel depressed and insecure… political posts that you don’t agree with… feeling like you can never keep up with what everyone else has… being directly attacked about a message or picture you posted” (Nick Zagorski). Just like mental illness, alcoholism and gambling are considered addictions just like social media can be within all ages.

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A study back in 2011 by Griffiths and Kuss was the first to review the scientific literature on excessive social media use and found that for a small portion of individuals, social media had such a detrimental effect on their lives including their relationships, work, and even academic achievements. They argued that these signs suggested that their addiction was quite similar to what people experience with drugs or alcohol. A few years later, the smartphone and screen addiction was closely tied to social media addiction. They linked usage to many other psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Although only a small number of people are diagnosed as addicted, the negative impact social media has on today’s society results in behavior that is problematic and even quite dangerous. This type of addiction also impacts different personalities in different ways. In another study done by Griffiths and Kuss, it was proven that extroverts appear to use social media sites for social enhancement while introverts use them for social outlets (Griffiths & Kuss). It was also found that the more time spent on social media sites, the less involvement in real-life communication. This shows that people are spending less time face-to-face and more time connecting through these platforms. However, the usage is far away from being a mental disorder but just a dangerous addiction no matter the specific type of person. The feeling of isolation can be dangerous when bullying is incorporated on social media networking sites. Users are more common to bully online through anonymous postings that create a large amount of offensive posts that can be detrimental to one’s mental health.

In this article (SMA), “if a user was interested in posting statements that were offensive or bullying people but felt they could not express these urges in real life, they could potentially find an outlet by posting on social media anonymously”. This negatively affects our society because people feel that they can say hurtful things behind an anonymous social media profile. This type of bullying created through social media addiction and the idea that people can pretend to be whoever they want anonymously can create dangerous situations and alter the mental health of those on both sides negatively. This targets Generation Z the most as they grew up with the growth of the internet and uprising of social media. As this younger generation grew up with social media surrounding their every day, high usage rates correlate with the ideas of addiction and excessive use. According to a study of college students done by Nick Zagorski, this generation will spend 6-8 hours on social media a day, staying up to date on everyone’s lives within seconds of sharing it on the internet (Cite). This shows how large of a time that people are using these platforms. Whether social media is classified as a mental disorder or not, it is clear that there are many negatives to these platforms. According to Galer, “Research has suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are more likely to report poor mental health… It’s of little surprise that Instagram was rated as the worst social media platform for young people’s mental health in a UK survey.

Yet its audience is growing – there are now over 800 million users worldwide,” (Galer). Seeing these usage rates, one can see the negative impact that these high usage rates can have on an individual’s mental health. As Galer later describes a study done with 554 people, over a third voted that more than two to three hours was too much time but we all know that most people spend at least two hours a day social networking and messaging. It is known that over a third of Generation Z uses the internet for six or more hours a day, dedicated to social networking sites (cite?). Even though these numbers on usage may seem unusual, people do not think of how much time they truly spend on these social media platforms throughout the day, inferred by this study. The term ‘Social Media Addict’ is not something many hear on a day to day basis but it can also be related to video games, not just Facebook or Instagram. Many know about video gaming and how addicting it can be but who knew one would compare it to social media? Fortunately, there are two established organizations that classify mental disorders- the World Health Organisation and the American Psychiatric Association. Video gaming and the usage of social media are quite similar when comparing the addiction traits. In an article written by Sophia Smith Galer, BBC, her article called How much is ‘too much time’ on social media? states “that one of the experts who has been researching it for decades – Mark Griffiths at Nottingham Trent University – has also been investigating gambling addictions, internet addictions and the excessive, perhaps even dangerous, use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram” (Galer). This means that due to the excessive use of social media, people have turned to it instead of socializing in real life, they turn to this addiction such as someone would turn to gambling or other excessive activities. With the high usage of our phones and constantly being connected, it can cause dangerous and negative implications especially when driving. It is a known fact that texting and driving is awfully dangerous.

However as technology grows every day, a new feature in some cars is Bluetooth; one can make calls and text people by talking to the Bluetooth in their cars without it becoming a hazard to the driver or others. This feature does not include social media. Many people look past the consequences that can occur such as getting into a car accident or even getting a ticket for being on your phone while driving while checking notifications from different applications. It is shocking that people will risk their own lives and others around them just for the sake to check their latest update. After looking at the causes of mental illness and usage times of social media, there are different ways to acknowledge or test what our society has adapted to be an addiction in our day to day life. Surrounded by a society with progressing technology, it makes it easy for one to ignore the so-called side effects of this “social media addiction” in a negative light. However, a way to determine whether or not they are addicted to social media is through the following study. In an article by The Washington Post written by Mark Griffiths and Daria Kuss, it is determined that by answering yes to only six questions one can identify with having an addiction to social media. It is fairly certain according to Griffiths and Kuss that by answering “yes” to all or many of the questions such as, “Do you spend a lot of time, when you’re not online, thinking about social media or planning to use social media? Do you feel urges to use social media more and more over time? Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?

Do you often try to reduce your use of social media, without success? Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media? Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job, relationship or studies?”(Griffiths & Kuss), that you are a standard to usual social media user. Most people use social media as a “detox” and an escape from their busy lives but get too caught up wasting away their lives on a little digital screen. However, by answering yes to the questions, it also shows developmental traits of addiction to social media but nothing can truly be diagnosed unless getting a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist. A highly scientific way of looking at social media addiction would be biological and psychological reasons. These implications of social media addiction can have a negative impact on the brain development of adolescents. Found on The Huffington Post, Suren Ramasubbu states that an adolescent brain is considered a “work in progress” and the prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens area of the brain are most affected. The prefrontal cortex is the area of decision making and social interactions that could row in unhealthy ways due to passive networking on social media, resulting in a loss of creativity (Ramasubbu). Teens commonly have high activity in the nucleus accumbens area of the brain, commonly called the “reward” network” of the brain (Ramasubbu).

Lots of activity in this portion of the brain can cause the need for social approval, with this validation from peers to be highly necessary in their everyday lives. This constant supply of “social rewards” (peer recognition and approval) can trigger the rewards network, also serving as a powerful attraction to excessive and continued social media use (Ramasubbu). Negatively impacting especially adolescents, their need for approval in society will translate into issues later in life, needed the rewards of a “like” or “comment”, for example, on social platforms. Another aspect of the brain is the release of dopamine when using social media platforms. According to the article Internet Addiction by Kenneth Search, people are “spending increasing time online in order to get the same reaction achieved previously in less time,” (Search) referring to the dopamine effect. Dopamine is the so-called “pleasure chemical” of the brain that stimulates rewarding happiness (Ramasubbu). As our enjoyment from social media intensifies, so does the need to fulfill the dopamine levels, however, they rise each time one exceeds the levels known as a social media “high”.

After this, people feel the need to keep increasing their time online to relive the enjoyment. This is detrimental to the brain and can leave some feeling depressed and anxious when they cannot reach the level they achieve for. Even though social media usage and interactions are highly addictive and create a negative impact in today’s society, there are some that believe social media is used in a positive way. Most people are aware in today that there are influencers and creators that make a profit off of social media platforms. The well-known application Youtube is a way for people to create their own channels about whatever they want and post videos that go viral for the whole world the watch. However, this is not just for their enjoyment but also their career. In today’s society, people of all ages are addicted to watching these famous Youtubers and Instagram models such as David Dobrik, Liza Koshy, and Jenna Marbles. It is estimated that early in 2018, David Dobrik has a net worth of at least four million dollars as he has over 6 million subscribers and in a day gets over 3.5 million views among his videos, this amounting to be at least 2.3 million dollars a year (Naibuzz).

Although there are many ways to make a profit off of social media platforms, it is still highly addictive and people should keep their time on their devices to a minimum to improve the mental health of our society. Being a social media influencer is not for everybody and comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. Overall, it is clear that social media has become an addiction as it has a negative impact on today’s society through mental illness, excessive usage, and biological and psychological reasons. Even Though some may think that it creates a place for influencers to succeed and make a profit, it is proven to be detrimental to all ages.

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