Many of us know friends and loved ones who have a tendency to remain glued to their phones, browsing social media even when amongst good company. According to a study in Frontiers in Psychology, the function that we are most addicted to on our phones can reveal our desire to connect with people. However, using phones to connect can put you at risk of hyper-social monitoring, which may cause you to spend less time socialising in real life. This may, unfortunately, point the user to an overall sense of loneliness over time.
While many of us are quick to dismiss such behavioural patterns as being indicative of social media addiction, can this modern communication medium truly be considered the culprit? There many clues that suggest that such individuals are also the type that typically crave social recognition and acceptance, insofar that it is the idea of establishing a connection with other parties that appeals to them.
If that is the case, why not just talk to more people or be more engaging publicly? The reason why online social interaction prevails under such circumstances is due to its convenience and relative safety. It is far easier (and less awkward) to begina conversation with an absolute stranger online than it is on the street. The relative anonymity of digital communication also presents less risks. Lastly, the entire process is incredibly streamlined: just curate your content, click a button and you’re done!
Addiction to social media without a doubt exacerbated from its convenience and instantaneous connection. This can cause the user to rely on a false sense of connection in the long run after habitual and excessive usage. In fact, research suggests that young people are especially vulnerable to changes in brain chemistry when too much time is spent on their phone. This can lead to anxiety and depression when not managed.
Herein lies the question of what kind of underlying forces drive this behaviour. Social media addiction may ultimately stem from the need to connect and reach out to someone. We may wish to seek reassurance or recognition from others, the volume at which this can be done is amplified on social media. Are we trying to fill a void, or we simply feeling unsatisfied with what we currently have? Regardless of what it is, having more meaningful, real-life conversations with a closer group of friends will prove more fulfilling (quality over quantity). In addition, not being distracted by what goes on in the digital realm it will help you develop more engaging relationships.
Social media addiction has been arguably normalised. However, the doses of dopamine that come with every like, share, or comment can have repercussions if unregulated. Start with checking your phone less often today and redirect your energy and time towards appreciating what’s happening around you instead. The real world has so much more to offer than what you’d get online!