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Social Media Addiction: How Much Is Too Much Social Media?

 

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Are you worried that you are dealing with social media addiction? Read this article to learn about how much is too much social media.

 

What if you had a terrible addiction and didn't even know it?

Addiction isn't limited to things like alcohol and cigarettes. Consuming too much social media can be a form of addiction as well.

How can you tell if you have a problem? Here are a few things to look out for.

How Much Is Too Much Social Media?

Let's start with the bad news. When it comes to knowing whether you spend too much time on social media, there is no magic number we can point to.

For example, most users spend at least two hours a day on social media. Some of these people may exhibit behaviors indicating addiction and others may not.

Social media addiction has a lot in common with video game addiction. That means the primary signs of addiction are less about how often you engage with social media than how and why you use it each day.

 

 

The Difficulty of Diagnosing Addiction

What makes it so difficult to diagnose social media addiction? As of this writing, such addiction has not been formally defined by either the World Health Organization or the American Psychiatric Association.

These institutions are often slow and reluctant to acknowledge new addictions and disorders. In fact, it wasn't until 2018 that WHO formally acknowledged video game addiction as a major issue.

Because social media addiction is not listed in the DSM-5 or otherwise acknowledged by these institutions, it can be difficult to diagnose. And you can only make a successful diagnosis when you understand how social media affects your brain.

Social Media And Your Brain

Some people are skeptical about the very idea of social media. How can using Instagram or Facebook lead to addiction?

A recent Harvard study uncovered a possible answer for this. Using social media helps release dopamine, making your brain feel like this is rewarding behavior. The same thing happens when you use an addictive substance.

Eventually, you may become dependent on those bursts of dopamine and try to get them more often. And that means social media usage may start distracting you and otherwise affecting other parts of your life.

Obviously, easy social media access is a big part of this. Thanks to smartphones, you can access the social media dopamine rush anytime that you want.

Recognizing Possible Signs

How can you distinguish between healthy social media usage and addictive behavior? By understanding the possible warning signs. Here are a few behaviors you need to watch out for.

Checking social media first thing in the morning can be a dangerous sign. It shows that social media is a high priority and you may not be able to start the day without that dopamine rush.

Constantly refreshing your feed or timeline is another sign. This shows a constant need for new content that may not be healthy.

Arguably, the biggest sign is whether you obsess over your online reputation. Signs of this include worrying whether a post will get enough "likes" and obsessing over finding the perfect images of yourself to post.

If you are engaging in some of these behaviors, you may be using social media as a coping mechanism.

The Dangers Of A Coping Mechanism

Addictive substances and behavior are always more dangerous when used as a coping mechanism. For example, there is a world of difference between drinking with friends because you are happy and drinking alone because you are depressed.

Using social media when you are lonely, depressed, or stressed out is actually quite dangerous. It means you are seeking out that dopamine rush to make yourself feel better. And the more you rely on social media, the likelier you are to get addicted.

Eventually, that addiction may start affecting your life. If you'd rather browse Twitter or Instagram all night than hang out with your closest friends, then you may have a problem.

Tracking Your Usage

How do you know how much you are using social media? Because there are multiple social media apps, it can be difficult to track your exact usage.

The solution? Another app, of course! Apps such as In Moment help you track how much you use each social media app.

That same app can help you set limits on your usage and keep you from accessing social media if you go over that limit. Eventually, though, you may want to delete apps like Instagram entirely.

 

 

Social Media and Social Anxiety

While it's difficult to diagnose social media addiction, it's not hard to see the negative effects that social media can have. In fact, recent research shows that social media can seriously hurt your self-esteem.

The biggest reason for this is that you are likely to compare yourself to those on your social media feed. When you see someone celebrating a new home or a new promotion, you may end up stressing over the fact that you aren't "keeping up" in your own life.

Social media also stokes the classic Fear Of Missing Out. Why do you constantly check social media? Due to FOMO, you don't want to miss out on any major online developments.

But what you see online (for example, pictures from a reunion you couldn't attend) can enhance that FOMO. This creates a closed circuit where you can't stop using social media even as it makes you feel worse about your life.

Dangerous From A Young Age

One final thing to keep in mind is that children are at significant risk of experiencing social media addiction.

Children (particularly teenagers) already struggle with things like poor self-image and self-esteem. Social media can magnify these issues when a teen compares themselves to someone's latest Instagram photo.

And children also have plenty of stressors ranging from school to parents to the struggles of puberty. They are likely to seek social media as a coping mechanism and end up feeling worse than they did before.

Too Much Social Media: What Comes Next?

Now you know how to tell if you're using too much social media. But do you know who can help break that addiction?

We specialize in helping you achieve personal and professional success. To break the social media cycle, spend some time browsing through more of our blog posts instead!