Sometimes people use social media as an escape from everyday problems and seek comfort while removing their thoughts from uneasily resolvable issues.
Today, social media is everywhere, with more and more people using it for all kinds of purposes. The benefit of social networks can be seen in opportunities to communicate with distant people, wider reach and faster spread of the information. The increased use of social media is easily spotted in children, who often engage in these activities from a very young age. Some would say that it's too soon for children in primary schools to start using social networks. But why do people believe it’s bad for their development? It's not so unusual to see pupils neglecting their homework due to internet, which makes parents worried. Can they develop some sort of addiction to social media if they use it excessively?
To make it clear, there is no formal diagnosis called “social media addiction”. However, it’s not so uncommon to hear people call themselves “obsessed” with Facebook or other social networks. But not everyone reacts the same way when considering engagement in social media. According to The Center for Internet Addiction, some of the signs of excessive use include spending a lot of time thinking about social media and planning how to use it. This can interfere with everyday life activities and result in ignoring other important commitments or just disturb one’s enjoyment while socializing. Also, an urge to use social media increases. Sometimes people use social media platforms as an escape from everyday problems and seek comfort while removing their thoughts from uneasily resolvable issues. Another sign of potential social media addiction is the feeling of disturbance or unrest once the access is limited or prohibited, which can prompt symptoms of anxiety and depression in people. Often times, exaggerated use of social networks has a negative impact on personal relationships, especially in terms of accepting online communication as a “better” – safer form of socialization. This could lead to feelings of discomfort when communicating openly, face to face.
Extraverted and sociable people enhance their social life, but for the introverted people the motive seems to be compensation for poor social networks in real life.
In one research conducted at Nottingham Trent University, discovering new information about peer’s experiences on social media was found to be a really enjoyable activity. This action has been connected with the activation of the appetitive system, which could lead to addiction. There are some gender differences in using social media that should be noted. While females more often use social media for communicating with friends, males appear to engage in such in order to compensate socialization processes, to learn and to reach gratification from others. Also, males were more likely to be addicted to games on social media. Furthermore, some personality traits were shown to be connected with increased, potentially addictive, usage of social networks. Extraverted and sociable people enhance their social life, but for the introverted people the motive seems to be compensation for poor social networks in real life. However, people who are extremely extraverted and low in conscientiousness, are at risk of developing social media addiction. Narcissistic personality traits are also connected with higher social networks usage, perhaps due to their need for success recognition and self-praise motive.
Finally, as much as social media has brought us into the new world of faster and more efficient communication, we need to be aware of its potential harm. There is always a limit between healthy and beneficial activities and compulsive, anxiety-induced, pathological ones. And it is not so hard to unknowingly cross that limit.