Is Social Media Addiction a Real Problem?

social media addictionSocial media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family when you are away from home. However, today it seems harder than ever to find someone to talk to in a public place because everyone is on a smartphone sharing on social media channels.

With the development of so many social media outlets, smartphones can be found in our schools, at our breakfast tables and in our bedrooms.

Luke Davies’ classic novel Candy sums up addiction succinctly with this quote, “When you can stop you don’t want to, and when you want to stop, you can’t…”

If you were to ask most millennials if they feel like they want to put their phones down but can’t, most would likely say, “Yes.” So, the question arises, are we addicted to social media?

These seven criteria set forth by the American Psychological Association define addiction:

  1. Increased tolerance
  2. Withdrawal
  3. Increased use
  4. Inability to quit or cut down
  5. Inordinate amount of time spent in procurement and use
  6. Disruption of social, occupational, and recreational interests
  7. Continued use despite known consequences.

Experts suggest more research is needed before social media dependence can be qualified as a true addiction. However, current research suggests that observable consequences can be linked to social media use. Search the subject online and you’ll find a glut of social media anecdotes that mirror the APA’s criteria for addiction; it’s impacted jobs, romantic and personal relationships, and has been found to negatively impact self-esteem. Whether these consequences are recognized as part of a disorder or not, they cannot be dismissed outright.

While people who didn’t grow up in the social media age can wonder what the big deal is, a new generation of individuals depends on the technology to stay connected with work, peers, and the world to an unprecedented degree. So the real questions are: what is social media in terms of addiction? Is it a substance to be used and possibly abused, or is it simply a “growing pain” of a communication and connectivity paradigm shift? As the APA suggests, it may be too early to tell, but given the real consequences we can observe, it may be only a matter of time before we flip through the DSM VI and find “Social Media Addiction” added to the collection of legitimate disorders.

What can you do in the meantime if you feel like your social media use is negatively impacting your life? What can be done if you’ve lost control? These are legitimate questions that should be addressed. But until the APA chimes in, maybe one of your Facebook friends has the answers …   

Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.