In the field of new technologies, we are already starting to talk about a relatively new phenomenon: Social Media Addiction. In psychology and mental health in general, the concept of addiction is very focused on chemical dependence on substances. However, outside of the medical field, there are other ideas about what is meant by “Addiction”.
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ADDICTION TO SOCIAL NETWORKS
Social media came with the Internet age and has changed the way people communicate forever since. It is likely that our parents’ generation did not expect such influential changes.
The era of globalization has certainly brought enormous benefits to mankind. However, we also have to accept that these advances have also brought their dark side. All is not rosy. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other well-known social networks (media) are a revolutionary way to interact with people around the world.
Communication between people, after all, is a good thing. These are technological tools that facilitate a very human activity: relationships. Where is the problem then? It’s not in these tools; it’s in those who use them.
In psychology and mental health in general, the concept of addiction is very focused on chemical dependence on substances. However, outside of the medical field, there are other ideas about what is meant by “addiction”.
In the field of new technologies, we are already starting to talk about a relatively new phenomenon: social media addiction.
It is clear that our lives have improved thanks to new technologies. Now everything is easier, faster and even fun. Using the Internet on our tablets, smartphones, computers … has its advantages, but also its risks.
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION?
An addiction is a habit or action that we consciously or unconsciously perform. It becomes something that an individual does frequently because it produces some mental gratification.
An addicted person can be psychologically extremely dependent. This behavior thus becomes compulsive behavior that eliminates interest in other previously rewarding activities.
The term social media addiction is controversial: It does not appear as such (yet) in psychiatric classifications. However, beyond abusive use, we can speak of addiction when its use involves:
– Loss of control
– Absorption of the mental level
– Serious impairment in the daily functioning of the affected person. The addict enjoys the benefits of immediate gratification, but does not notice the possible negative long-term consequences.
As a result, dependence eventually consolidates when uncontrolled abuse occurs. Withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, depression, agitation) appear during the temporary loss of connection, tolerance is established (i.e. the growing need to increase connection time) and hence negative consequences for everyday life. In these cases, the subject shows a pressing need for social networks. Indeed, a snowball effect appears: The problems extend to all areas of the affected person: health, family, studies and / or work and social relations.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION, WHO AFFECTS?
Connecting to networks when possible, surfing the Internet as soon as you get up, reducing time for common tasks such as: eating, sleeping … or fulfilling their obligations, constitute the profile of a person addicted to social networks.
There are people who are more vulnerable to addictions. Social networks are accessible to everyone, only a small part of them have abuse problems. More specifically, adolescents constitute a group at risk. They tend to seek new sensations and are the most connected to the Internet, in addition to being more familiar with new technologies.
In some cases, certain personality characteristics or emotional states increase your psychological vulnerability: Impulsivity; emotional discomfort; intolerance to negative stimuli, both physical (pain, insomnia or fatigue) and psychic (aversions, worries or responsibilities); and the exaggerated search for strong emotions.
Sometimes, however, a previous clinical problem is the basis of a social media addiction: excessive shyness, low self-esteem, rejection of body image, depression or hyperactivity. In these cases, Internet abuse is like the smoke that reveals the existence of a more or less close fire (personality problem or mental disorder), and that is what really needs to be addressed.
Other times, these are people who show personal dissatisfaction with their life or who do not have constant affection. They then try to fill these family or social deficiencies with an imaginary world. In these cases, the Internet or social networks act as a technological prosthesis facilitating escape from real life or improving mood.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION, HOW TO PREVENT THE RISK?
In general, young people and adolescents must learn to use new technologies sensibly. For this, parents must establish, in agreement with their children, a reasonable schedule of the various tasks to be performed, limit the connection time (approximately 1.5 hours per day). This is easier when the computers are located in common places (the living room at home, for example).
The fundamental function of parents and educators is to educate young people in the assessment and protection of their privacy. This implies teaching them not to disclose their personal data or to compromise their photographs. Some teens are willing to reveal their privacy because of group pressure, a sense of belonging, or a desire to break standards. And if the preventive system fails, they must be reassured: Young people seek help from their parents or their educators.
It is also convenient for parents to actively participate in their children’s relationships with the Internet. This means they need to be with them on the web, know where they are browsing and interact with them in their own language. Therefore, the digital culture of educators is practical.
On the other hand, parents and educators should help adolescents develop the ability to communicate face to face:
Limit the use of devices and agree on hours of computer use.
Foster relationships with other people.
Promote leisure activities such as reading, cinema and other cultural activities.
Stimulate sport and team activities.
Develop group activities, such as those related to volunteering.
Stimulate communication and dialogue within the family
SOCIAL MEDIA, HOW TO USE THEM CORRECTLY?
Facebook, Twitter, Google +… Social networks have become a very important place in our lives, so we must make good use of them to protect our privacy.
It is much easier to express feelings with emojis than to stand in front of the person and express them in the face. Enjoying a sunny day seems more enjoyable if we get thousands of likes and approval votes for our post.
Social networks on the Internet are part of our daily life. We share the content with our friends. We post pictures from our vacations and turn our tastes with likes and recommendations. In short, we make our public life accessible to everyone.
However, with the increasing use of social media, many companies are tracking the profiles of future candidates to ensure they are suitable for their jobs. That’s why we have to be very careful with what shows up in our profiles. It can really influence our professional future. Everything we publish stays in time.
CONTENT POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA
For this reason, we have to be very careful with what we post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It is indeed difficult to start from scratch or improve our reputation on the Internet, once he has been injured. The type of information published on these sites is very varied. It ranges from opinions and likes to personal information, comments and photographs. All can put us in compromise. We should therefore be aware of the privacy options offered by these sites.
MONITORING AND VERIFICATION
A good way to check the sites on which we may appear and the information that concerns us is to search our first and last names in search engines. Google, as well as email accounts and personal phones can provide the first leads. This will help us to know how much personal data is accessible to the public and therefore to be able to act.
Do not mix business and personal contacts in the same group. We can separate them into different networks. Facebook, for example.
Freedom of expression but with a head. Human resources departments can follow potential candidates’ posts on social media. They thus have an idea of their character or their disposition.
Critical comments about the company are not recommended. They can indeed cause labor disputes with it or between its employees.
Different types of social networks, different uses. There are different types of social networks for different purposes. For example, Facebook has a more fun character where the goal is to put people in contact. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is characterized by professional networking.
You are advised not to accept friend requests or add people we do not know to our social network. Indeed, they risk not being the bearers of good intentions.
Photographs and videos of third parties. If we are going to upload other people’s images or videos, or tag them, and if we think they may damage their reputation, the best thing to do is to ask their permission first.
THE PARALLEL REALITY OF SOCIAL NETWORKS ON WHICH WE MUST THINK
Is it possible that by Instagram photo, Facebook status and Snapchat video, people know us? Or do they just know what we want them to know? In the world of social media, we are what we want to be. We share phrases about how happy we are when we are very sad, exercise techniques we never practice, healthy meal recipes we don’t really eat, and a thousand things, just to show.
Basically, this is an illusion, a construction that each of us deliberately constructs to show others. The dark side of social media has to do with our perception of perfection and keeping it on a sort of pedestal … A goal that we are constantly striving to achieve through virtual tools …
Being happy is not something to aspire to, but a requirement. That’s why it’s no coincidence that, just browsing our Facebook feed, almost everything we see is good news, photos of happy times or hilarious party videos.
The big problem is that the false image of happiness goes beyond the truth and the harm it does to us is something we are not aware of.
The saddest thing is that we are only showing part of the story and hiding our problems. We want others to see the good and the good, make our friends think, “What a great life you have! He looks so happy! We try so hard to show this fictional reality that we end up believing that we are happy. But are we really? Do we not allow ourselves to be devoured by this competition where everyone must demonstrate that they have a better life than the other?
We shouldn’t see social media as an opportunity to have a parallel life and start to be a little more authentic. We can be happy in a real and imperfect life.