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Social Media Addiction

Let's talk about social media addiction. 

This image is actually from a 2019 blog from Tufts University, which contains this stark statement on the effects of social media:

While physical symptoms such as compulsions to check social media sites are obvious to the human eye, more readily studied and subsequently easily proven, the impact of social media on mental health, by comparison, is poorly researched and underemphasized. Social media presents us with an internal struggle...[it] intensifies the reinforcement behaviors of social reward and punishment that we already have within us.

Wow! This is such a sobering thought.

Here are some other takeaways from other research done on the effects of social media:

-People who use the internet heavily are more likely to forget things and make mistakes in daily life.  They’re less focused on the world around them. It’s unclear whether the lack of focus is a result of their media consumption or if those who already found it difficult to focus were more inclined to be heavy media users. Read more here.

-On one level, the brains of people who report symptoms of Facebook “addiction” (withdrawal, anxiety, and conflict associated with the site) behave similarly to those addicted to cocaine — the regions of the brain associated with impulsive behavior are similarly active. An important difference between drug users and Facebook users, though, is that Facebook “addicts” retain normal function in the parts of the brain that inhibit such impulsive behavior (read: they probably could overcome their impulses, but they choose not to) . Go here for more.

-On a related note, people with addictive relationships to social media tend to report problems with emotional regulation.  “Our findings suggest that disordered online social networking may arise as part of a cluster of risk factors that increase susceptibility to both substance and non-substance addictions,” one study author said.

-Narcissistic people tend to spend more time on social media sites than their less narcissistic counterparts. (Again, it’s unclear which comes first–the social media or the narcissism.) Here’s the report.

Social media consumption has also been linked to depressive symptomsunhealthy body image and poor academic performance.  But it’s important to remember that it’s hard to tell what’s a cause and what’s an effect in these relationships. Is social media use causing these symptoms, or are we turning to social media because of our tendencies and insecurities?

With social media playing an increasing role in our lives, it’s an interesting question and an interesting field of study. We’ll keep an eye on it for you.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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