Social media has changed the way we communicate. While this shift is generally positive, especially when it comes to sharing relevant and crucial information, there is also a downside. There are many concerns in the scientific community related to the excessive use of social media, especially among the young population. This mostly refers to generation Z – who are probably the most frequent and diligent users of social media.
This population successfully harnesses the benefits of social media – they share personal information, videos and pictures and even manage to find jobs or share educational materials. However, the amount of time they spend online is also potentially dangerous. One of the potential threats that lurk in the dark corners of social media is addiction. Have you ever considered social media as a potentially addictive “substance”? You should! This list will show you the signs that you can spot in someone heavily influenced by social media. Social media can be an addiction, so the signs that someone is addicted are similar to those observed with other addictions.
5 ways to spot if someone is addicted to social media:
1. They rarely put their phone down
In conversations, they look for any opportunity to pick up their phone and start scrolling on their social media apps. We are frequently experiencing this situation nowadays – a group of friends go out for dinner or drinks and none of them communicate with each other. Instead, they keep staring at their phones, taking pictures of their food or selfies. Does this happen to you or someone you know? How often? This might be the first sign that you’re addicted to social media. If the thought of putting your phone down or not checking your accounts every 10 minutes makes you nervous, you should definitely consider changing your habits. The same thing goes for games. New mobile games are super cool and fun, but they are also designed to be highly addictive, especially for new users. Before downloading a new game, you should definitely consider the amount of time you’re willing to spend on developing your virtual personality.
2. They are the first to comment or like the pictures and statuses of people they follow
… and this is because they are on the platforms constantly! It might seem like this person is your number one fan, but the truth is that they are always online and will probably like anything that is posted. If this is happening to you and you’re feeling a burning urge to comment or like every new picture that is posted, maybe you should limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
3. They may become agitated or annoyed when without battery, internet or signal
The smarter the phone, often the shorter the battery life. Some of you remember the time before smartphones, when you could charge your phone once per week and completely rely on it for days. However, today that’s not the case. Most smartphones need to be charged on a daily basis and can sometimes turn off in situations when they’re needed the most. This may cause discomfort if you really need to use it at that moment, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world. For people addicted to social media, this is a cataclysmic event. In these situations, they are nervous, annoyed or even aggressive and will calm down only if they find an available charger.
4. They regularly reference other people’s social media feeds in conversation
…and they don’t differentiate between someone’s social media persona and their real life. What are the traits of a visually appealing Instagram account? Beautiful pictures, complementary filters, stunning locations and perfect moments. To be honest, everyone loves beautiful visual content and will probably follow such an account at some point. Owners of these accounts are probably promoting themselves, their lifestyle or their products/services, and these pictures are probably photoshopped or staged. It’s very important to know the difference between real life and the lavish, extravagant and glamourous Instagram life many people present on their accounts. In addition, people addicted to social media will probably only visit places that are “Insta-friendly” and have the potential to result in great visual content.
5. They are late-night users and are scrolling and checking until right before they go to bed
This can be an alarming sign, as it is most likely connected with sleep deprivation. You should definitely evaluate your late night scrolling habits for multiple reasons. The first reason is the quality of your sleep. Scientific studies show that the best quality of sleep is obtained between 10 pm and 12 am. Contemporary lifestyles often prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep and going to bed early. But, if you are already in bed by this time, why don’t you reap the benefits and reward your brain with a boost of energy?
The second reason is also connected to your cognitive functioning. You probably heard that mobile phones (and computers) emit blue light that is good for daily activities, but terrible for nocturnal ones. To break it down, blue light sends our brain the signal to wake up and get into working mode, which is great when you actually need to concentrate and focus on work. But, at night, you need to decrease the amount of cognitive activities your brain is doing and get some much-needed rest. The good news is that you can turn on the blue light filter on your phone, but the better choice would be to leave your phone alone and read a book instead.
Do you suspect someone you know is addicted to social media? Or do you think you are yourself? Take this questionnaire and look for ways to moderate and cut down.