You have probably come across a few people who jokingly say they are addicted to social media. As it turns out, it can pose a problem. Problematic social media use does not mean all social media use, but only the cases that cause the same effects and symptoms are other types of addictive behavior.

Issues

People that use social media too much are often dealing with anxiety or depression, though this is not necessarily the case. The issues arise from the need to be connected and do what everyone else is doing. After a while, social media provide a falsely safe environment for communicating with the world. Children, teenagers, and young adults are especially at risk of giving up the traditional means of communication for the sake of social media platforms.

Why?

Communication is so much easier on the internet than it is in real life. You have your profile(s), your screen name and all the anonymity you could ask for, which allows you to share some of the thoughts you would not be comfortable expressing out loud. One of the issues is the fact that the virtual world has its own set of rules and social regulations. We also control our image online and tend to present ourselves as happier and more successful than we really are.

How It Makes Us Feel

Social media, especially certain popular platforms, often make us feel inadequate. People tend to post the highlights of their life, like starting a new job or a family, often ignoring the bad times. This is particularly problematic when we are spending more and more time online and not interacting with people.

There are a few indicators that a person is addicted to social media, but the experts often disagree on a few of them. They include mood swings, being on social media platforms at the expense of other activities and obligations (like checking one’s Facebook repeatedly instead of working, or snapping an Instagram story about having dinner with a loved one instead of actually enjoying said dinner), and tolerance, where we spend more and more time on social media platforms for the same gratifying feeling, along with a type of anxiety when the subject is not able to log into the social media platform.

How to Deal with It

There is no prescribed treatment, as this type of problematic behavior is relatively recent. Furthermore, social media are such a big part of our professional and private lives that it is virtually impossible to avoid them. The only thing that works is showing supports and urging the person to interact with their friends and family more. This is particularly important when it comes to children and teens.