Social media, created for social network and for users to share and create content – to keep people in contact with each-other. The idea was an incredible one, we can now have friends all over the world and keep in contact with them, however as with all things it has its downsides particularly when it becomes over used. So I ask you – How often do you use social media? And are you aware of how much time you may be spending on it?
You may be wondering why I refer to a social media ‘overdose’ in the title of this post, this is because using social media and mobile phones has been proven to be really addictive. When you get messages or likes on your recent post a hormone is released, the same hormone that is released when drinking alcohol or smoking. It’s this ‘happy’ hormone that makes all of these things so addictive. So just like you can overdose on these things you can overdose on social media.
Some apps such as Snapchat deliberately make using it addictive. In this case it’s the use of ‘streaks’, having to send a photo to your contacts every day that becomes really addictive; people using the app have to add sending ‘streaks’ into their daily routines, often making it a priority first thing in the morning. I was at a party recently in a place with no signal and no wifi and in the morning it was like a meltdown because they had a ‘timer’ meaning they were going to lose their ‘streak’ unless they sent a photo right away. I know so many people who get like this with Snapchat and I used to feel it too until I realised what I was doing and how pointless it really was to get so caught up in a number next to a name. So I deleted snapchat for a while and only re downloaded it so I could keep in contact with the friends who have been trying to contact me on there. When I deleted it so many people messaged me, so annoyed that we had lost our streak and I was so relieved to rid myself of that pressure, to not have to think first thing in the morning that I need to go on Snapchat.
Having a social media addiction is not a mental health disorder in itself but being addicted to it can cause many other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression because you’re counting the number of likes and having people unfollow and unfriend you. Many people also spend more time on their phones than spending it with people face to face, this lack of true social interaction can make people feel lonely, anxious and upset.
The health secretary is urging tech firms to enforce minimum age rules and I do think that this has got to be a really great thing to happen, I never had a phone until I was 11 and even then it was a little pay as you go phone but I loved growing up playing outside with friends, dressing up and doing role play; so many kids now just play games on their devices instead of getting dirty outside. Many of the tech giants don’t even allow their kids to have mobile phones or social media platforms.
However this is not just an issue for kids, I often see parents picking up their kids from school and their child is trying to tell them about their day yet more often than not that parent is looking down at their phone. The misconception of social media use, I think, is that its just the young generations that use it but it affects all age groups because in the modern day they have to use it in work.
How can we reduce our social media use?
In the new update for iPhones, Apple have added a feature where you can put a time limit on using certain apps so you can truly see just how long you are spending on instagram or snapchat or Pinterest. You can then tailor your social media use to your life.
The best way, however, to reduce our time spent on social media is simply to be wary of when we are using it. For example; when out to dinner with friends, put your phone away and turn it on silent. Sometimes we all need time without the distractions of our mobile phones; to simply be with your own thoughts, it’s in these time that we can be innovative and come up with new ideas.
To summarise, as the saying goes ‘everything in moderation’, using social media can be a positive way to spread messages and create content but using it too much and letting the likes and follow count get to you can cause a problem. Talk to people and take time for yourself to do things you love and use social media only when you’ve done these things; don’t let social media control your life.
I hope you enjoyed this post, I found it really fascinating researching the impact social media has on our lives in the modern day – if you want to find out some more here are a few links to some books and websites you might find interesting….
- How much is too much time on social media? – BBC Future
- Social media companies need to own up to the dark side of their impact on society – Forbes
- Teenage loneliness – The Guardian
- Mark Zuckerberg
- The people vs Tech; how the internet is killing democracy and how we save it – Waterstones
- Its time to log off.
- Logged off; the teens who refuse to use social media – The Guardian
I have also done a post about the impact technology and social media has had on ways we get information and its contribution to creating ‘fake news’. Have a read here —– Fact Or Fiction