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Addiction can be seen as the antithesis of play. Play relieves stress, spaces oneself away from pressing issues, and helps one relax and feel some joy, while addiction creates stress, creates issues, and creates feelings of misery. Looking at overuse and addiction in not only social media, but also other mediums, such as gambling and video games, proves to be useful, but only in their commonalities.
There may be some insight for Social Media addiction in other activities, whether it be by association or a link through the natural evolution of an activity, such as texting to social media.
Lister-Landman, Domhoff, and Dubow discovered that compulsive texting was connected to poorer academic functioning, but only for females. Females are “more likely than males to engage in rumination or obsessive, preoccupied thinking” and value friendship, family, and togetherness more (Lister-Landman 2017). The contents of the texts they sent were more disruptive as well.
While there are differences between texting and social networks, texting is in a way a predecessor to social networks.
This would imply that anything that applies to text would be multiplied through social networks. If it is a problem with texting, it is most likely a problem with social media as well. Social networks in social media can be a lot bigger than ones in texting, as social media connects a much wider audience, opening one person to receive much more information in the same amount of time. This would only drive the need to interact with the information on the social network since there is a better chance for information to be present at more frequent intervals.
The study is only limited to a certain group, and a social network brings together many different groups, which would suggest that it is not a simple matter of extrapolating texting problems to social media users.
Associations of addiction between activities can also be seen with gambling addiction and phone addictions. Brean links gambling addiction to smartphone addiction, through similarities, such as lights, the urgency to get results, and constant feedback loops. By focusing on these similarities, one can gain new insight on how social media is possibly disruptive.
The usefulness can only extend so far, as a study by Andreassen et al. suggests that not all addictions are easily linked. They investigated the relationship between psychiatric disorders and both video games and social media addiction. Both were correlated with being “single, lower age, [and having] ADHD, OCD, [or] lower levels of depression” (Andreassen et al. 2016). Anxiety was correlated with social media, but inversely so with video games. Video game addiction was linked to being male and social media was linked to being female. However, there was a low, but significant correlation between video games and social media, most likely due to having contrasting motives.
At least for video games and social media addiction, they cannot be treated as entirely being the same. However, the explanations given contrast the similarities provided for gambling and phone addiction. Andreassen et al explain the contrast using motives. Social connections define social behavior, while video games are motivated by “personal achievement, immersion, and escapism” (Andreassen et al. 2016). The gambling comparisons explain similarities through properties in the addiction. In that sense, it is not useful to look at what motivates people to engage in activities (social media brings people together to socialize, video games do so to have them compete), but what engages people to become addicted (video games and social media involve bright lights).
Liu and Ma focused directly on social media and dived deeper into the effects of social media addiction, as well social media-induced envy and anxiety created burnout in social media users. They confirmed that social media addiction was heavily linked to more burnout. Envy not only directly influenced burnout but also stemmed from social media addiction, resulting in even more burnout. Anxiety was linked to envy, which was also linked to burnout.
This study highlights the contrast between play and social media, by showing the effects of overuse of social media. Social media cannot be considered as fun if it creates negative feelings and exhausts people. Play is supposed to alleviate these feelings, but addiction does the opposite.
Loiacono and McCoy looked at the continued usage of social media technologies and the factors that play into it. What they discovered was how social networks and perceived usefulness affected attitudes towards initial and prolonged usage of social media. Their attitudes were more positive towards social media if they found it useful. As for social networks, peer pressure determined the user’s attitude. Social networks also fueled a user’s feeling of Techno-Invasion — the invasiveness of technology, and the stress it induces — and as a result, affected whether a user would continue to engage in social media in the future. This came from a “need users [felt] to continue to update and manage their online persona”. The study also found that a person’s attitude was a good indicator of whether someone would continue to decide to use social media.
This digresses from what other addiction studies have suggested, asides from Liu and Ma’s. It looks at social media from a more practical perspective. Other studies suggest that even with negative effects, such as the role of compulsive texting in adolescents’ academic functioning, social media usage does not decrease; otherwise, it would not be highlighted as a problem. In contrast, this study insinuates that the amount of stress it induces, along with a perception that social media provides no uses, would drive people away. However, it also looks at an older audience (the average age of a person in this study was 40.68 years), compared to the others, which look at younger audiences, which tend to be less emotionally mature.
With phones a constant companion and laptops never too far away, Balhara, Verma, and Bhargava explore the negative effects of increased screen time usage and how that can lead to screen addiction. While this study brushes on the negative impacts of such usage, its main focus is to determine why there has been such an increase in screen addiction over the last few years. Balhara, et el. Notes how in past studies the use of personal screens like phones or laptops were normally excluded from the overall studies. But since phone and laptop use are now the most commonly used devices to watch online television shows and movies, there inclusion in the studies is imperative in order to get the most accurate data. Excessive screen time has been identified as an important and independent risk factor for health. Limits for screen time were even recommended as one of the national health improvement priorities back in 2008.
On the topic of screen addiction, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted research in which they found people ages 8 to 18 spent more time on media than on any other activity – at an average of 7.5 hours a day” (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010). This study involved nearly 2002 3rd–12th grade students, ages 8–18, including a subsample of 702 respondents who also volunteered to complete seven-day media use diaries. The respondents were categorized into three groups: “Heavy users are those who consume more than 16 hours of media content in a typical day (21% of all 8- to 18-year-olds); moderate users are those who consume from 3–16 hours of content (63%); light users are those who consume less than three hours of media in a typical day (17%)” (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010). Nearly half of the heavy media users also reported that they get fair or poor grades (C’s or lower) compared to a small amount of 23% of light media users. Heavy media users were also prone to feeling sad more often, feeling unhappy or bored, and getting in trouble. This study shows a direct correlation in increased amounts of technology use and negative mental health.
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