Social Media Addiction Essay Example

Social media has become a great way to connect with friends, bring attention to important issues, and stay informed on the news of the world, but what happens when social media grows into a vicious addiction? Over the past 10 years, a new phenomenon called “social media addiction” has arisen, with over 10 million Americans suffering from social media over-usage. Unfortunately, social media overuse is very commonplace today, and can have serious effects on your health. But how does the addiction start, and what are the effects it has on you?

There are many parts of social media that make it addicting, the primary reason being the feeling of gratification it give the user. According to a Harvard study, when someone posts something on social media, the brain lights up the same part of the brain that would ignite when taking an addictive substance. When someone experiences rewarding, neurons in the brain release dopamine, also known as the feel-good chemical. The brain receives a “reward” and associates that drug or activity with positive reinforcement.

This is seen in social media usage; when someone gets a notification, such as a like, or a comment, the brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along the reward pathways, causing pleasure, or happiness. Social media provides these rewards for relatively minimal effort. The brain then rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, causing people to crave likes, retweets, emoticon reactions, and so on. This is what triggers this addiction, and why it is so easy to fall into.

Over-usage of social media can have many damaging effects on you, first of which being how it impacts your happiness level. The more time people spend on social media, the more lonely they felt. A study done a few years ago found that use of social media is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. The team looked at people’s usage of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more, and correlated this with their “perceived social isolation”. They found out that the more time that people spend on these sites, the more socially lonely they perceived themselves to be. 

Another effect that social media over usage can induce is FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out. FOMO refers to the feeling that others are having more fun and living better lives than you. This usually involves a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem. Social media has accelerated the FOMO phenomenon in several ways. It provides a situation where you compare your normal life to the highlights of others’ lives. Therefore, your sense of “normal” changes, making you think that you might be missing out on something fundamentally important. 

Of course, all of this doesn’t go to say that social media is completely bad. When used in moderation, social media is a great tool for promoting businesses, spreading awareness about important issues, and connecting with family and friends. But using social media when you have time to kill, or worse, when you need an emotional lift, is a very unhealthy idea.


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