Social media addiction

Checking and scrolling through social media has become an increasingly popular activity over the last decade. Although the majority of peoples’ use of social media is non-problematic, there is a small percentage of users that become addicted to social networking sites and engage in excessive or compulsive use. In fact, psychologists estimate that as many as 5 to 10% of Americans meet the criteria for social media addiction today. Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas.

How Social Media Affects the Brain

Due to the effect that it has on the brain, social media is addictive both physically and psychologically. According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. The reward area in the brain and its chemical messenger pathways affect decisions and sensations. When someone experiences something rewarding, or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement.

Growing up, we millennials didn’t even know what social media was, let alone how it might play such a big part in our adult lives. If you feel you are becoming addicted to social media, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to beat your social media addiction.


In the past decade, social media has crept from our computer screens onto the screens of our handheld devices. With the flick of a finger we can upload photos directly from our phones onto our social media accounts, reply instantly to messages, or see what our families and friends have been up to. With our mobiles always within arm’s reach, it can be super easy to become a little too enamoured with social media and it can negatively affect our relationships with others. So here are some tips on how to gain control of your social media addiction.

1. Turn Off Your Notifications
When you stop notifications from disturbing your normal routine, you might find it easier to concentrate on your daily tasks and not get distracted so easily. Notifications are a constant reminder that something is happening in the online world and you might feel like you’re missing out. So to quell your FOMO, turn off your notifications. The bonus is, when you do come around to checking your social media, you may have a build up of more notifications which will make it more exciting and will make the experience more rewarding.

2. Limit Yourself
Set a timer on your watch or phone, to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Choose a limit depending on the severity of your addiction – say an hour a day, which equates to seven hours per week – and whenever you check your accounts, start your timer going. When you reach your limit, be strong and don’t be tempted to add on extra time. This will be a strong test of your willpower, but it will be worth it in the end.

3. Get A New Hobby
You may have a lot more free time on your hands now that you’re trying to cut down on your social media usage, so why not pick up a new hobby to fill your spare time? You could learn a new skill or do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. You’ll probably surprise yourself at how much free time you have when you stop mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. Plus your new hobby will keep your mind and hands preoccupied when you’re craving social media.

4. Spend More Time With Your Loved Ones
Instead of keeping up to date with your friends’ and family members’ lives through a screen, spend time with them in the real world and reconnect with them. Make new memories and keep them personal to you — you don’t need to document everything you do in life with selfies

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