How much is too much?
The American Psychological Association defines internet addiction as "a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive or obsessive online and offline computer use that leads to distress and impairment."
There is still a lot of debate about internet and social media addictions being recognized as meeting all of the diagnostic criteria. However more studies continue to reinforce the pervasive and harmful effects of social media on mental health.
What are some of the mental health impacts that have been associated to frequent use of social media?
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, some of the ways that your mental health can be affected include:
"Feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation and loneliness.
Thoughts regarding suicide and self-harm.
Feelings of inadequacy—Many people’s social feeds only highlight the positive moments of their life, making it seem like they don’t have the same challenging or mundane experiences as the rest of us.
Opportunity to be cyberbullied—Which can have long term mental health consequences."
The Addiction Centre has extensive information about social media addiction and cites: "A study performed by California State University found that individuals that visited any social media site at least 58 times per week were 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed compared to those who used social media fewer than 9 times per week."
How does social media become addictive? What happens in the human brain that creates more of a desire to use social media?
The answer to this question reinforces the label of "addiction" as we know there are changed that occur in our brain which indicate an addiction has occurred. The Addiction Centre explains "when an individual gets a notification, such as a like or mention, the brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along reward pathways, causing the individual to feel pleasure. Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort. The brain rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, making people desire likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions."
So how do you know if you may be struggling with overuse or addiction to social media?
"To determine if someone is at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask these 6 questions:
Do they spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
Do they feel urges to use social media more and more?
Do they use social media to forget about personal problems?
Do they often try to reduce use of social media without success?
Do they become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
Do they use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on their job or studies?
A “yes” to more than 3 of these questions may indicate the presence of a social media addiction."
For further support with this or any other mental health and wellness challenges, please contact one of our therapists.
(citations and credit to: https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/social-media-addiction/ )
(citations and credit to: https://cmha-yr.on.ca/practicing-safe-social-social-media-and-your-mental-health/)