Over the past few decades, we have begun to better understand behavioral addictions. These are addictions to behaviors rather than substances. While initially not considered to be equivalent to substance use, due to the lack of physical dependence, behavioral addictions finally became diagnosable as such. In the years since, gambling addiction, sex addiction, and other kinds of addictions have been acknowledged and treated.
Nowadays, a big talking point is social media addiction. Social media addiction refers to the regular usage of social media and the struggle to go without it for an extended period of time. However, many people doubt that it is a real addiction. Gambling addiction can leave you financially destitute. Sex addiction destroys healthy relationships. What damage does social media do?
Is social media addiction real? Here’s what you need to know.
What damage does social media do?
Social media does not cause problems in the same direct way that other kinds of behavioral addictions do. But that doesn’t mean there is no harm in it. Rather, the harm is more internal and difficult to pinpoint.
Social media has a negative impact on mental health. Research has shown that excessive social media use is linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. These are mental illnesses that do not always have one cause or trigger, for which reason many users of social media do not associate the two things.
Social media can also have a destructive impact on relationships. People who show signs of social media addiction find it more difficult to relate to people in real life and often neglect their loved ones.
Many social media users also make self-destructive decisions. These may include using social media rather than doing necessary work and missing deadlines.
Can you become dependent on social media?
No harmful behavior can be considered an addiction if you can simply choose to stop doing it. Can you become dependent on social media?
Unfortunately, the reality is that many people are dependent on social media and do not know it. This is because they have not tried to stop using social media.
For someone dependent on social media, ceasing its use may lead to symptoms of depression, excessive anxiety, boredom, and an inability to concentrate, among other things. These are all components of a type of withdrawal.
How is social media addiction treated?
Social media addiction is treated in a similar way to other kinds of behavioral addictions. There will be no medical detox necessary, but there will be a period of withdrawals. Over the course of an inpatient program, the person will learn healthy coping mechanisms and how to manage difficult emotions. Their new skills will give them the basis to live a happy, healthy life.
Social media addiction is certainly real. While it does not have the same physical effect as dependence on substances would, it is similar to other behavioral addictions including gambling addiction and sex addiction.