Social Media Overuse Issue
Recent studies have shown that overuse of social media is considered an addiction because of its harmful outcomes that a person experiences in their personal and social life (Settanni et al., 2018). Social media is classified as addictive because it offers short term rewards on a person’s mood (Settanni et al., 2018). A study conducted on the relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and addictive social media use shows that individuals suffering from ADHD “are prone to use social media to help them cope with recurrent negative feelings and thoughts about personal problems, to calm anxiety and stress, and to deal with depressive feelings” (Settanni et al., 2018). Thus, high social media usage is described as a drug that helps ADHD suffers to overcome their negative thoughts and eventually, they develop addiction to it (Settanni et al., 2018).
Another research has been conducted to determine whether smartphone addiction really exists (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). Various studies on smartphone addiction are taken into consideration to analyse whether smartphones can be considered addictive or just a problematic issue (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). The researchers in this study consider the addiction traits such as salience, withdrawal, loss of control and relapse (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). Researchers argue that these traits cannot be used classify high smartphone usage as an addiction (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). For example, researchers believe that the restlessness and discomfort people experience when they do not have their smartphone can not be considered symptoms of withdrawal but rather people have become adapted to the smartphones which creates discomfort when their smartphones are taken away (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). “It is also important to note that smartphones are often expensive and contain sensitive personal information; therefore, a primary stressor during their absence may be a fear that the device can fall into the wrong hands, get damaged, or get stolen, which are normal reactions when viewed in context” (Panova & Carbonell, 2018). In conclusion the researchers of this study describe that smartphones usage can be categorised as a problem but there is no evidence to suggest that smartphones are an addiction at present (Panova & Carbonell, 2018).
A study conducted in Turkey draws the relationship between smartphone addiction, social anxiety and loneliness among university students (Enez Darcin et al., 2015). Three hundred sixty-seven students were asked to answer certain questions that assessed their smartphone usage (Enez Darcin et al., 2015). Participant’s smartphone addiction and loneliness was measured using “Smartphone Addiction Scale-Short version (SAS-SV) and UCLA Loneliness Scale” respectively (Enez Darcin et al., 2015). This study found that social phobia and loneliness promoted the addictive usage of smartphones in students (Enez Darcin et al., 2015). Moreover, social networking sites are the main contributor to addictive smartphone usage behavior in all university students irrespective of their sex (Enez Darcin et al., 2015).
Research has shown that adolescents who experience symptoms just like substance related addictions when they do not have access to their smartphones may be addicted to social media (Griffiths & Kuss, 2017). It is found that some individuals have the ‘fear of missing out’ on social media and as a result they show compulsive behaviors and develop addiction to their smartphones (Griffiths & Kuss, 2017). “Research suggests younger generations may be more at risk for developing addictive symptoms as a consequence of their social media use, whilst perceptions of social media addiction appear to differ across generations. Younger individuals tend to view their social media use as less problematic than their parents might” (Griffiths & Kuss, 2017).
I personally believe that social media/smartphones have become an addiction in todays society. Individuals tend to socialise more on social media rather than going out and meeting their peers. Social anxiety and loneliness may be another cause of social media addiction. As stated earlier many individuals have the fear that they will miss out something important if they do not engage in frequent use of their smartphones. I have observed that parents who talk less to their children are more likely to become social media addicts. I believe that social media addiction is very minimal in cultures where people physically interact more frequently.
There is no instrument that measures the level of social media addiction in todays world, but substantial number of researches have been done that indicate that social media addiction is a serious issue (Van den Eijnden et al., 2016). I think that social media is the main cause of addiction and smartphones are just a tool that are used to overcome the obsessions and negative thoughts that a person experience. After conducting research on this topic, I have come to a conclusion that social media addiction is problem that is evolving at a significant level. If this problem is not controlled in the right manner, then certainly there will be a day when we will have to add social media addiction to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).