Do you know that in the current era we touch our phones around 110 times on average in a day? Not only this, according to research, after the COVID 19 pandemic, an average person has approximately 7 hours of screen time every day. At times scrolling social media, watch videos on YouTube, or watch films on Netflix. If you are wasting 7 hours of your daily time on this then not only does this affect your day, but your life. It disrupts your studies, job, business, hobbies, and most importantly, your brain. There is no doubt that this has become an addiction, but very few people talk about it.
Social media addiction can be compared to addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and gambling. It may sound unusual to you because cocaine and social media are two quite different things. Though they are vastly different, but the addictions your body has developed can be compared to quite an extent.
For any addiction, your body follows a set pattern, known as the Dopamine Pattern. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in our brains. A neurotransmitter is tasked with sending messages from one part of the brain to another. Dopamine is connected to motivation and reward. It plays a significant role in your motivation, memory, and learning. An optimum level of dopamine is healthy for your body, but it should neither be too high nor too low. When you get repeated exposure to the same thing, it creates a Dopamine Deficit State in your brain. This concept in psychology is known as the Hedonic Treadmill.
The first time a human consumes drugs, a small amount of drugs gives them a big kick. But eventually, he needs to consume more drugs to get the same level of kick. Social media addiction also works in the same way. When someone likes your photos, someone leaves a nice comment on your photo, it makes you happy. It makes you feel like you get a reward and dopamine is released. But slowly the excitement keeps decreasing, everything you’re already getting is not enough anymore. Slowly you start falling into the pit.
Why don’t we get addicted certain to other things?
The first reason is the ease of access, and the second reason is speedy rewards. These are the two risk factors to be addicted to something. You cannot get addicted to things like clearing exams because there are no speedy rewards. You must practice and study for years before you reap the rewards. Now let’s have a look at this for social media.
Social media and your phone are easily accessible, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can unlock your phone with a simple swipe and enjoy unlimited hours of fun. You also get instant rewards in the number of comments and likes and views that you can receive in a limited amount of time.
All social media companies have intentionally designed their applications like this. They have conducted several studies to find out what pleases their customers the most. Things that would encourage their users to use their applications more. From color schemes to the layout of the buttons of the app, they have paid attention to everything. This way they manipulate their users to make them addicted to scrolling their apps.
Why is social media addiction dangerous?
The first and the simplest reason is that you will be wasting your time but is only a surface-level reason. Apart from this, there is an increase in radicalization. If the algorithm keeps showing you the feed you like, then political viewpoints can also be developed in an echo chamber.
It also increases insecurity and depression. When you look at the social media pages of other people, their life seems much more entertaining and happening when compared to yours. Especially teenagers start feeling increasingly anxious and may eventually get depressed.
If used in moderation, social media can be used for good. We do not suggest that you avoid using social media completely. But the question that rises is how do we stop the addiction? The answer is hidden in the same two factors that have been mentioned above: ease of access and speedy rewards. If you must reduce any sort of addiction, then the most basic to do is to reduce the ease of access and eliminate the speedy rewards.
A simple solution could be to delete all social media applications from your phone. If you wish to access any of these social media sites, then you can access them in your phone’s browser or your laptop’s browser by logging in every time. What this will do is reduce the ease of access. Thus, your behavior will change too.