Do I Have a Social Media Addiction?

Social media has only been with us for about 20 years, but in that time it has transformed the way we communicate. No one would question the fact that it has had a huge impact on the culture of the Western world and beyond. But what happens when you get too much of a good thing?

In this article, Cottonwood Tucson examines the phenomenon of social media addiction and how to approach a social media detox. 

Is Social Media Addiction Real?

Addiction can be a touchy subject for several reasons. Some people reject the idea that a person can be addicted to anything other than drugs or alcohol. Others think that addiction itself isn’t real and that some people simply lack the necessary willpower to control their use of a thing. Both of those camps have fundamental misconceptions about the nature of addiction. 

Addiction is a form of obsession and compulsion. It is not limited to substances like alcohol, painkillers, or illegal narcotics. At its simplest, addiction is a set of behaviors that reorders a person’s priority in an unhealthy way. The object of their obsession and compulsion becomes far more important than it ought to be — and to the detriment of that person’s health and well-being.

So, operating with that definition in hand  — is social media addiction real? Unquestionably. For a person who has an unhealthy relationship with social media, a social media detox is often just the right medicine. 

Facts about social media:

  • About half the world’s population is on some form of social media. 
  • 19-25-year-olds in one survey spent 2.5 hours a day on social media.
  • 45% of young adults report feeling more anxious after using social media.
  • Numerous studies show connections between social media and loneliness and depression

Signs of Social Media Addiction

The signs of social media addiction are similar to any other addiction. Namely, social media become far more important than it should be to them. A person addicted to social media might spend 5-6 hours a day or more on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or other platforms. 

Signs of social media addiction include:

  • Spending more than 2-3 hours a day on social media. 
  • Often unwilling to put down the phone in the presence of other people.
  • Becoming emotionally rattled or upset over something on social media.
  • Inability to simply enjoy an experience without recording it
  • Becoming upset and angry over the idea of being cut off from social media. 

Addiction by its nature is harmful. Is social media harming you or your loved one? Take a close look and give it serious thought. 

When Does Social Media Addiction Begin?

Some people may read this article and think to themselves “Well, I use social media for 6 hours a day, but it’s not hurting me. How am I addicted?”. That’s a great question. How are you addicted? Are you certain social media isn’t hurting you? 

Can you think of anything else you might be doing with that time that would bring you more joy, satisfaction, and meaning? Are you neglecting anyone in your real life due to your social media addiction?

Social media addiction begins when you are sacrificing anything in your real life for the sake of social media. How intense is your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) if you stop using Facebook or Instagram for a day or two? How about 3 days? If you find it very difficult to stop using social media for 48-72 hours, then you just might be addicted to it. 

The Science Behind Social Media Addiction

Part of the problem with social media is that it’s designed to be addictive. The people who develop social media platforms make money through advertising and harvesting data. The more time we spend on their apps, the more we interact — the more money they make. Is it any wonder that they are forever focused on luring us to Facebook, Instagram, or another platform? 

Their business depends on your attention. They want as much of it as they can get. Numerous studies have shown that social media is addictive and potentially harmful. More than that, social media also promotes depression and has a significant negative effect on self-esteem — particularly for girls and young women. 

What can you do with this information? Well, they say ‘Know thy enemy’. Understanding what social media really is and how it’s designed to get you hooked will help incentivize you to steer clear or moderate your use. 

What science tells us about social media addiction:

  • Social media causes depression, especially in younger people. 
  • Social media undermines self-esteem, particularly in girls and young women.
  • Social media has been shown to increase suicidality in adolescents. 
  • A two-week social media detox has been shown to improve mental health

How to Detox Yourself from Social Media

There are two basic ways to go about detoxing yourself from social media. The first is to use structure and accountability to limit your use. The second way is more extreme – the ‘cold turkey’ method. Delete your accounts and the app and make an oath to stay away. 

The second option isn’t easy. We’re willing to bet even the thought of quitting social media completely and deleting accounts filled some of you with terror. Ironically enough if it did, that’s a great sign you may be addicted to social media. 

Here are some suggestions for detoxing yourself off of social media:

  • Try limiting yourself to 2 hours a day — use an app to enforce the rule.
  • Start with a 48-hour break from all social media. Keep a journal and record your feelings.
  • Try increasingly longer social media detox breaks — work up to a 2-week detox period. 
  • Create accountability for yourself by telling friends and family what you’re doing. 
  • Finally, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you try all of these and still feel stuck. 

Expert Mental Health Treatment in the Desert Southwest

Cottonwood Tucson’s private residential treatment program offers holistic care for a broad range of mental health disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or another mental health challenge, we want to help. 

Cottonwood Tucson’s treatment program is nationally recognized as one of the very best in the country. We invite you or the one you love to find serenity on our 35-acre wellness campus in the foothills of Arizona’s majestic Sonoran Desert. 

You and your loved ones deserve the compassionate care that only Cottonwood Tucson can provide. Let’s talk about what we can do for you, today. Call us anytime at  (888) 727-0441.

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