Addiction is defined as “the persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.” Excessive social media use qualifies as an addiction that can lead to poor mental health. It also hinders our social nature as the addict increasingly abandons human interaction for digital communication. Furthermore, social media addiction can potentially deteriorate our sense of independence and mental processes.
Though there currently exists no official medical acknowledgment of social media addiction as a disease or disorder, University of Chicago researchers have recently identified social media addiction as being stronger than cigarette and alcohol addiction. In fact, social media addiction can be perceived as an extension of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).
Symptoms of IAD include irregular headaches, insomnia, anger or even violence related to social media use or lack thereof. In the case of children, who spend an average of seven to eleven hours per day on social media, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends parents and physicians limit their screen time to 2 hours daily and eliminate use altogether for children under 2 years of age.
Treatment for Social Media Addiction requires addicts to relearn their devices in a manner facilitating a healthy life-tech balance. However, like food addiction, in which addicts cannot stop eating as a means of treatment, social media addiction cannot be healed via stoppage of use. Instead, addicts are taught to re-identify valuable aspects of “disconnected” living and supplement them with social media rather than replacing them with it.
Re-focusing one’s mind on healthy offline habits can help alleviate social media addiction and prolong mental wellness. Prescribed foci include, but are not limited to, the following:
● Developing an enriched social media experience via constructive knowledge-sharing void of destructive interpersonal “online drama.”
● Stimulating and strengthening the intellect with “in person” relationship development and human bonding.
● Increasing inner peace by disconnecting from devices at the end of the work or school day.
● Participating in physical activities that help rejuvenate determination, energy, and drive.
● Managing social media-induced stress and how it can prolong your life and happiness.
● Renewing the mind and body daily with adequate sleep and rest.